No rubber duck

Roast Gressingham duck with cloves and spiced honey glaze, served with celeriac purée

First day and the first cook of Superior Cuisine was Canard de Gressingham Rôti aux Clous de Girofle et Miel. Gressingham duck is back. This time roasted on the crown with cloves and a honey glaze. Cool.

My duck was massive. I think it was a swan. Don’t tell anyone.

Legs off. Oysters intact. Good start. Wings clipped. Scissors through the rib cage and backbone removed. We have a crown. The legs and wings were reserved for tomorrow’s cook along with the neck, heart, gizzards and liver. The carcass was cleaned up—scraped the lungs out, removed any tubes, pipes and blood spots, trimmed away excess fat. That went into the oven to brown. The crown was tidied up. Excess fat removed. Skin trimmed but leaving an appropriate excess to allow for shrinkage around the crown. Fridge for now.

Jus. Same old, same old. Still trying to get it right. Bones freed from their Sucs in the pan. Add the mirepoix to deglaze. Patience! Let the mirepoix brown. Deglaze with white wine. Add stock, thyme and bay. Don’t boil when the bones are in. No reduction at this stage. Let it infuse on low heat for as long as possible. Then Pass. Now reduce. Looking good so far.

Celeriac purée. Yum. Celeriac cubes were boiled with bay and thyme. Celeriac needs to be over-boiled. Even when it’s soft it can be grainy when puréed. So best overdo it. No harm, no foul. Whizz. Whizz. And whizzed some more with a hand blender. Then passed through a fine chinois—with some elbow grease. Double cream stirred through. Into a bowl. Clingfilm on top and into a Bain Marie to keep warm.

We could choose how we wanted to cook the garniture and present the plate. I added a blackened onion because it complemented the earthy flavour of celeriac. I glazed the baby carrots, keeping part of the green stalks for contrast. The spring onions were blanched, refreshed and lightly charred on the griddle to serve. Cherry tomatoes on the vine were simply drizzled with olive oil, seasoned and roasted in the oven.

The duck breasts were pierced with cloves and the crown was pan-fried, skin-side down, over a low heat for about 15 minutes to slowly render the fat and give colour without scorching. The longer the render the thinner and crispier the skin. Into the oven until medium. This was a probe and wait game given the size of the damned bird. And I was running out of time. I should’ve put the bird on earlier. Anyway, it came out of the oven eventually—looking pretty good. I had to carve it off the breast bone almost immediately and let it rest afterwards for a few minutes. Not ideal but needs must. While resting, the cloves were surgically extracted with my mega tweezers and the skin was painted with a glaze made by reducing honey, olive oil, mixed spice and lemon juice to a syrup. I cut the duck differently to most people.

Because the meat took longer than expected my jus over-reduced so I added water. No issues there. But then I failed to sufficiently reduce it again. FFS.

I think I presented last. LOL. Past caring—almost. The people in this new group are fast!

I went for a white plate. I wanted to build colour around a small dome of white purée. I was happy with the presentation.

Chef said I’d achieved nice thin skin on the duck. Phew. The duck cooking was ok too. No rubbery duck here. Glaze was good. Veg nicely cooked.

Misfire. I burned my Grattons. Ooh Matron! Slivers of duck skin, cooked slowly in a little water to control the fat rendering. You’re left with little ducky scratchings. That was the theory.

An ok start.

Here’s how chef plated up in demo.

Chef’s roast duck on a white plate

Chef’s roast duck on a coloured plate with texture