Monday, 18 August 2008

18.08.08: Crispy duck with plum sauce and asparagus

He riffed on the Perfectly Cooked Crispy Duck from Cook with Jamie, including carrots and onions in a five-five spice caramelisation, made the three-grain rice, and prepared more grilled asparagus (hey, it was buy-one-get-one-free, and We don't even pretend to resist free gourmet veg). Salad of soft lettuces with physalis, cherry toms, radishes and avo stood by. Special guest: some five-spice and star anise plum sauce She made on Sunday.

SHE SAYS: The meat was perfectly tender and the skin tres crispy - call it the bacon of duck, if you will, I crunched my share of it. Asparagus with lemon squeezed over were a very suitable complement to the rich skin and spicy-sweet sauce. Salad was a welcome calmer after all the gastro-excitement, though the physalis did its usual tangy best to provoke the tastebuds.

HE SAYS: Pretty easy one to put together: slice a few veggies, stuff with an orange, coat with five spice, honey, and fresh ginger, and stick in the oven. 2.5hrs later, hey presto! A pretty crispy duck. The veggies were a little on the charred side but overall I was happy with the crispy to tender ratio. The plum sauce added some delicious, sweet and tangy chutney topping to the mountain of rice, duck and veggies. Also spooned over some duck fat for an added yum factor. Salad was made all the more fantastic with the crunchy, peppery, French breakfast radishes.

PS: You want plum sauce? I'll give you plum sauce:

- 10-12 plums (note: these were also on sale, down to 85p for six!)
- 5 Tbs sugar
- few pinches five-spice powder
- two Tbs soy sauce
- tsp chili powder
- a few whole star anise (optional)
- good splash of water
- orange zest (optional)

Pit the plums and chuck in a pot with the sugar, spices and water. Bring to a boil, then simmer with the pot mostly covered* for 30-40 mins, until the plums have mushed down and the mixture is all glossy, occasionally stirring and pressing down the plums with the back of a spoon. Add more water if needed along the way. Zest over some orange peel, if you have an orange lazing about.

Heck, you can even skip pitting the plums and just pick out the pits at the end (along with the bits of star anise, if you can be fussed). This is my preferred route, since I get to savour the bits of plum pulp clinging to the pits as I spoon them out.

Makes about 1.5 cups of sauce. Don't save it just for the duck - it's the ultimate yoghurt, cereal and toast topper!

*If you reeeeeallly want to peel the plums, take the plums out with a slotted spoon once they've boiled and the skins have broken, remove the skin, and plop your naked plum back in the pot. But the flavour and texture are marvelous without this extra step, and I'd only advocate it
if you have trouble digesting edible fruit peel.

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