Saturday, 22 October 2016

Whole roast duck with braised lettuce and potato pancakes


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

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Peri peri chicken

1 large fresh chicken, about 2kg
fresh watercress, to garnish
lemon wedges, to serve
Piri Piri marinade

4 plump red chillies, deseeded and roughly chopped
2 red bird’s-eye chillies, stalks removed, sliced
4 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
20g bunch of flatleaf parsley (with stalks)
juice of 2 lemons, about 65ml
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp smoked paprika, sweet or hot
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp caster sugar
2 tsp flaked sea salt
To make the marinade, put all the ingredients in a food processor and blitz until everything is well mixed and chopped up small. Now you need to spatchcock the chicken by removing the backbone but leaving it whole. Turn the bird on to its breast and carefully cut either side of the backbone with good scissors or poultry shears. Discard the bone. Cut off the foot joints and wing tips.

Strip off all the skin from the bird apart from the ends of the wings, which are easier to remove after cooking. You’ll find it simpler to do this if you snip the membrane between the skin and the chicken flesh as you go. Snip off any obvious fat with scissors – it will be a creamy white colour.

Open the chicken out and place it on the board so the breast side is facing upwards. Press down heavily with the palms of your hands to break the breastbone and flatten the chicken as evenly as possible. This will help it cook more quickly. Don’t worry if you can’t press hard enough to break the breastbone – as long as the chicken looks flat, it will cook evenly. Using a sharp knife, slash through the thickest parts of the legs and breasts. Place the chicken in a shallow nonmetallic dish – a lasagne dish is ideal – and tuck in the legs and wings.

Spoon over all the marinade and really massage it into both sides of the chicken, ensuring that every bit of it is well coated. Cover the dish with cling film and leave the chicken to marinate in the fridge for at least 4 hours or ideally overnight.

Preheat the oven to 210°C/Fan 190°C/Gas 6½. Take the chicken out of the dish and place it on a rack inside a large baking tray, breast-side up. Roast for 50–60 minutes until lightly browned and cooked through. The juices should run clear when the thickest part of a thigh is pierced with a skewer. Cover the chicken loosely with foil and leave it to rest for 10 minutes before carving. Add a garnish of watercress and some lemon wedges for squeezing.