This is a good dish for a birthday celebration when you want to push the boat out and cook something special. It’s inspired by Peking duck but with a British twist – swapping Chinese style pancakes for potato ones.
Equipment and preparation: you will need a wire rack which fits in a roasting tray.
1 whole English free range duck, trimmed, wings removed
1 tsp Sichuan peppercorns, ground
300ml/10fl oz chicken or duck stock (preferably made with the giblets)
6 sprigs thyme, leaves picked
100g/3½ oz butter
1 lemon, peel only
4 Little Gem lettuces, cut in half lengthways and washed
150g/5½oz clear honey
75g/2½oz soy sauce
250g/9oz cold baked potato, flesh only, mashed
75g/2½ oz plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 free-range eggs
125ml/4fl oz milk
salt and pepper to taste
oil, for cooking
Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6. Using a small sharp knife, pierce the skin of the duck all over, but be careful not to tear holes in the skin. Season the duck with salt and the ground Sichuan pepper and place on a wire rack sat in a roasting tin. Roast in the oven for 25 minutes.
Pour any excess fat into a jug. Reduce the oven temperature to 120C/250F/Gas ½. When at 120C/250F/Gas ½, return the duck to the oven and cook for a further 1¼ hours - basting with the reserved fat every 20 minutes.
While the duck is roasting, bring the duck or chicken stock up to the boil with the thyme, butter and peeled rind from one lemon. Place the lettuce into the stock and cover with a lid or tin foil. Turn the heat down and braise on the hob for 8-10 minutes, or until the lettuce starts to wilt. Remove from the heat and keep warm until ready to serve.
Remove ninety percent of the duck fat from the roasting tin and pour the honey over the duck. Turn the oven up to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and put the duck back into the oven for a further 15-20 minutes, basting every five minutes and making sure the honey doesn’t burn. On the final baste, drizzle the soy sauce over the duck. When cooked, remove the duck from the oven and set aside to rest.
While the duck is resting make the potato pancakes. Mix the cold mash, flour and baking powder together. In a separate bowl or jug, whisk the eggs and milk together. Pour into the mash and flour mixture and gently stir to make a batter (don't worry about a few lumps). Season with salt and pepper to taste. Fry spoonfuls of the batter mix in a non-stick frying pan with a little oil until golden-brown on each side. Remove from the heat and keep warm.
Carve the duck and serve with the braised lettuce and the potato pancakes. Spoon a little of the cooking liquor from the lettuce over the top and tuck in.
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