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This is duck how it should be. Soft, moist and delicious.

The potatoes are boulangère, which is like a gratin only supposedly healthier as it’s made with stock rather than cream. So we added goose fat.

There was method to this though, as traditionally a bird is roasted above the boulangère potatoes directly on a rack so the fat drips onto the potatoes. As we were just using the breasts though, I felt the potatoes needed an extra whoompf of fat.

We’ve done this duck dish a lot over the years. The duck is just amazing if quantities of peppercorn are adhered to. We once added way too many Szechuan peppercorns and our tongues were numb for the rest of the night and it also meant that the duck tasted of hospitals. Be warned…

The Potatoes – serves 4 (I always like to have leftovers)

6 or 7 medium to large potatoes, we used maris piper

2 onions, thinly sliced

3 sprigs of thyme

500ml chicken stock

1 ½ tblsp goose fat

Pre-heat the oven to 170c, and grease baking dish. Gently soften the onion with the thyme. Remove the leaves and discard the twigs. Layer dish with onion and thyme, then potato, then onion and season and repeat until no more potato. Pour over stock, dot with goose fat, season again, cover with foil and whack in the oven for a good 1 ½ to 2 hours (we cooked ours for longer and they were a bit mushy, but we did have a nice pint with Tom). For the last twenty minutes, remove foil and raise temperature for the duck to 180c.

The Duck – serves 2

2 duck breasts

1 tspn black peppercorns

1 tspn szechuan peppercorns

Pat the duck dry and score the skin in a diamond pattern. Fry the peppercorns in a dry pan until aromatic, then bash with a pestle and mortar with some salt. Rub the mix onto the skin. Render the duck fat in a dry pan, skin side down on the lowest heat until the skin is crispy (should take about 15 minutes). Flip them over on a higher heat to seal, although only for a minute or two. Then transfer pan to oven (about 180c – the potatoes will be on 170c so raise temperature), and cook for about 8 to 10 minutes (8 is pink, 10 is just pink). Leave to rest on a warm plate or the like for 10 minutes.

To Serve

Wilted spinach

Fried leeksthis was one leek, outer skin removed, halved lengthways, then thinly sliced and fried for about five minutes in a knob of butter and splash of water, then seasoned.

Red wine reduction pour in a good glass worth of wine, reduce by half, then add about 100ml of chicken stock. Reduce again, season and serve. Marvel at the colour.

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