Recipe: Feeling in the pink with rhubarb

Slow cooked duck leg with rhubarb relish and ducky sauté potatoes.

Slow cooked duck leg with rhubarb relish and ducky sauté potatoes. - Credit: Archant

Celebrate the delicious tart stems of the prettiest pink rhubarb with my confit recipe to go with a tender leg of duck.

Rhubarb and ginger relish

Rhubarb and ginger relish - Credit: Archant

You can cook the duck either in the oven or on the top of the stove. Simply place the legs in a pan and make sure they are tucked in well together. Pour over the fat and start to heat gently. Once it’s poaching, you can leave it to cook for a few hours. When the flesh is totally tender, the legs are done. The acidity of the relish is a perfect foil to the rich duck flesh.

Serve with curly kale or shredded Savoy cabbage, wilted or steamed.

Slow-cooked duck leg with rhubarb relish and ducky saute potatoes

Serves 4


4 ducks’ legs

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Salt and pepper

1 bunch thyme or dried herb de Provence.

400g duck or goose fat

To oven-cook the duck

Turn the oven to 150C/300F/gas mark 2. Lay the thyme all over the base of a roasting pan. Place the ducks’ legs on top. Sprinkle the skins with salt and pepper. Scoop the duck fat on to the legs, slip the pan into the oven and leave for three hours. This should be enough time for most of the fat to melt out of the legs, leaving the meat tender and tasty. You can do this all a few days ahead. Keep the legs in their fat in the fridge until needed and reheat by frying them skin side down until hot through, or place into a hot preheated oven to crisp the skin and heat through. This will give extra crispness to the skin. The duck fat can be cooled, sieved and stored in jars in the freezer ready for the next time.

For the potatoes

1kg potatoes, such as Maris Piper, Desirée or King Edward

6-8 tbsp duck fat

Herb de Provence or fresh rosemary and thyme

30g butter

Peel and cut the potatoes into chunks. Place into a large pan of water and bring to the boil; turn down to simmer and cook for about five minutes. Drain; shake to roughen the edges.

When ready to serve, heat the duck fat/ oil and butter in a large non-stick frying pan. If your pan isn’t large enough, fry the potatoes in two batches - rather than crowding them. Have kitchen paper ready to drain them on. Add the potatoes in a single layer, not too tightly packed. The more cooked your potatoes are, the faster you sauté; the less cooked they are, the slower you sauté. Turn the heat to medium-high, so that the potatoes sizzle, but don’t stir until they start to brown underneath.

Turn them all, evenly, two or three times until nicely browned all over - season with the chopped herbs. Then lift out with a fish slice or large slotted spoon to drain on more kitchen paper. Sprinkle with sea salt. They should be rough, dry and crusty all around.

Rhubarb and ginger relish

10 sticks rhubarb, trimmed and sliced on the diagonal

8cm piece ginger, cut into matchsticks

200g brown sugar

1 tablespoon black peppercorns, crushed

3 tablespoons sherry or red wine vinegar

10 sprigs thyme, leaves picked

1 teaspoon flaked salt

Place all the ingredients in a 24 cm x 34 cm baking dish in a single layer. Mix and set aside for 15 minutes.

Put the relish in the oven at the same time as the duck and bake for 10 minutes.

Remove from the oven and gently stir, then bake for a further 15 minutes or until the rhubarb is tender. Leave to cool without stirring. (Once cooled, place it in the fridge if not using immediately, then bring it back to room temperature before serving.)

My rhubarb was from my own garden, but if you live in or around Ipswich, try Kiln Farm Nursery, Kesgrave, for plenty of home-grown rhubarb.

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