Wild Duck with Crab Apples
Recipe featured in Cooking Times by Kate Fraser (HarperCollins Publishers).
Ettie cooked with seasonal ingredients. She reasoned that if one ingredient in a recipe was at its best at that time of the year, it made sense to combine it with another `at its peak' ingredient.
Wild ducks are lean, and they can be tough. By stuffing her ducks with tart crab apples Ettie was tenderizing the flesh - as well as adding a fruity note to the flavours, a similar combination to the famed recipe of duck breast with sour cherry sauce.
I have added a cup of port to her recipe - it provides a sweetish contrast to the crabapples and it boosts the flavour of the jus.
2 wild ducks, dressed (gutted and plucked)
1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice (retain the lemon halves)
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon each salt and pepper
2 cups (approx) destalked washed crabapples
Oil (or lard) for browning
250 ml port
Preheat oven to 170°C.
Cut out the oil sacks - two small nodules at the tail end of the ducks (ducks use this oil to preen their feathers. If they're not removed they can give cooked duck a whiff of musky raincoat).
Rub a cut lemon around the duck cavities. Make a paste with the lemon juice, ground
ginger, salt and pepper and rub all over the ducks. Fill cavities with the crabapples. Use a skewer to close the cavity but not too tightly.
Heat oil or lard in a large fry pan, and brown ducks lightly on all sides, then remove and place in heavy casserole of such a size that the ducks are close to but not actually touching the sides of the dish, or each other.
Pour over the port and cover.
Cook in the oven for 1 -1½ hours, basting with juices two or three times during the cooking time. When the ducks are tender remove and keep warm. Scrape off any sticky bits from the roasting pan, add 1½ cups stock or water and stir well to combine with pan scrapings.
Simmer briskly until this jus is reduced and slightly syrupy.
Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. To serve cut each duck in quarters.
Serve with a spoon of the soft but tart cooked crab apples and jus.
Wines to Match as suggested by John Hawkesby
Jules Taylor 2008
Brodie Estate 2007