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Spice-Brined Duck with Pinot Glaze and Roasted Grapes
2 large ducks (size 20-22) 1 orange, halved 300g grapes, snipped into clusters Spice Brine 1 cup salt ½ cup sugar 3 tbsp pickling spice 3 whole star anise 4 cinnamon quills 1 litre boiling water 4 litres cold water Spiced Orange Stuffing 2 large onions, finely diced 60g butter 6 cups fresh breadcrumbs 12 finely chopped fresh sage leaves ½ cup chopped parsley 1 tsp cinnamon a pinch of five-spice powder 1 cup toasted pine nuts finely grated zest of 2 oranges salt and ground black pepper 3 eggs ¼ cup orange juice Pinot Glaze reserved duck necks, skinned 3 cups chicken stock 1 bottle pinot noir 2 bay leaves 2 shallots, quartered 2 star anise 1 tbsp redcurrant or other fruit jelly 2 tbsp cornflour, thinned with water to a paste salt and ground black pepper ½ tsp balsamic vinegar 2 tbsp butter, to finish
© Annabel Langbein Media
Spiced Orange Stuffing
Prepare ducks by removing loose fat from the cavity and cutting off the yellow fat glands at the base of the tail. Reserve necks for the pinot glaze.
To make the brine, place salt, sugar and spices in a pot, add boiling water and stir to dissolve. Leave to cool then add cold water. Place prepared ducks in cold brine and keep chilled for 12-18 hours. (Use the clean vegetable container in the fridge or a large, clean bag inside a chilly bin with ice.)
While ducks are brining, make the Spiced Orange Stuffing (it can be made up to 24 hours ahead of time and kept in the fridge). Place onion in a pot with butter and cook gently for 10 minutes until softened but not browned. Remove from heat and add fresh breadcrumbs, sage leaves, parsley, cinnamon, five-spice powder, pine nuts and orange zest. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix in eggs and orange juice; the mixture will be quite wet. Cover and chill if not using at once.
When ready to roast ducks, preheat oven to 200°C. Lift ducks out of brine and pat dry. Prick the skin at 1cm intervals along the backs, thighs and lower part of breasts – this helps drain the fat during cooking. Divide stuffing between duck cavities and wedge an orange half into each opening to keep it in place. Transfer ducks to a roasting dish, breast side up, and roast for 2¼ hours until the leg joint can be wiggled easily. If the skin is becoming too dark, reduce oven temperature and cover darker parts with pieces of tin foil.
Use the last 10 minutes of cooking time to roast the grapes in a separate, shallow tray with a little oil.
While the ducks are roasting make the pinot glaze. Place duck necks in a pot with stock, pinot noir, bay leaves, shallots and star anise. Simmer until reduced to about 2½ cups (about 45 minutes) then remove and discard solids.
When ducks and grapes are cooked, remove from oven. Place ducks on paper towels to absorb fat then transfer to a platter. Cover with tin foil and a heavy cloth and leave to rest for 10-15 minutes before carving. To finish the glaze, drain fat from roasting pan (reserve it for other uses) and add the reduced pinot sauce with redcurrant jelly. Stir over heat to lift pan brownings then thicken with cornflour paste and simmer for 5 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and vinegar then whisk in butter until glossy.
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