the farmers market – simple duck curry

Being the man of my word that I am, here is the first of the farmers market cook ups (cook ups? Not the cleverest way of putting things, but its early in the a.m and I may or may not be a little hazy headed from the night before.)

Thai duck curry of any description is an all time favourite of mine and I just want you to give it the opportunity to be a favourite of yours, too. An opportunity that we never had as children, growing up as the child of a poor giblet farmer.

The ingredients. No Fleetwood Mac tickets there I’m afraid. Duck legs, lemongrass, kaffir lime, asian greens, chilli and organic brown rice. And the beer is just for me.

AJ the duckman says a lot of people ask him how to cook duck to put in a curry. This would be the easiest way I think. Braised simply in coconut cream with a few aromats. You could pass out drunk for a couple of hours and this would still be OK.

4 duck legs, 2 cans coconut cream, 1 can water, 3 kaffir lime leaf, 1 stalk lemongrass

Put it all into a pot, cover, and simmer for 1.5 hours-ish. The meat will be ready when it starts to fall off the bone or you can pull it apart with tongs (or your fingers if you are heaps tough, or showing off to a pretty girl, or an ugly one, or whatever). If the meat isn’t super tender, cook it for a little longer until it is. This will ensure a pleasant dining experience and you will feel very good about yourself… Your self esteem will sky rocket… Dammit, you might even feel inclined to ‘give yourself one’ tonight.

Now we make a curry paste. I’ve kept it nice and simple so once again, any inbred giblet farmer can do this (there are people out there who have carers who do everything for them and they can’t actually cook or wipe their own bottoms or anything, and they can still cook this dish). If you don’t feel that you are at this level yet, maybe just get a curry paste from the shop.

1 brown onion, 2 long red chilli, 1 birdseye chilli if you like it hot, 1 thumb sized knob of galangal (or ginger if you don’t know what that is), 4 cloves garlic, 2 Tbls coriander seed (toasted), 1 Tbls cumin seed (toasted)

Pound or blitz into a paste. Yeah that’s right. Show it who’s the boss… Scream at it… Who’s your daddy, who’s your step daddy… Now that you have that out of your system, fry the paste off with a splash of oil, 6 kaffir lime leaf and 2 lemongrass. When it starts to brown (not blacken) add 2 tins of coconut cream, 2 Tblsn palm sugar (or castor will do the job just fine) and 2 Tbls fish sauce. Cook out for 5-10 minutes.

Now add your cooked duck legs and 2 bunches of asian greens. Simmer for a further 5 minutes.

Serve with some fresh coriander and thai basil if you have some, and cooked rice (do not forget to cook the rice or this is going to be not very good). Mmmm. Duckman say yum yum.

*duck seams to be one of those things that is best eaten around midnight…

cooking duck

duck is one of my all time favorites. especially one of the beautiful muscovy’s that come from my backyard. i truly think there is nothing more satisfying then watching the baby birds hatch out, slowly grow to roasting size (while roaming around my backyard eating whatever they wish), and then killing, cleaning and plucking them ready for the pan. oh, and the killers’ privilege of hearts, livers and bacon on grilled sourdough with only a tumbler of red wine and the company of my 6 year old son who is also a big fan.

anyhoo, duck! we will do legs and breasts separately as this causes the most problems with roasting a whole duck ie. people will always complain that the legs were beautiful but the breast was dry and overcooked. or, the breast was cooked but the legs were still chewy and tough.

start with a 180g breast, and keep it simple until you have got the technique sorted. preheat oven to 180C. bring the duck out of the fridge for 10-15 minutes so it can get close to room temp. season on the skin side with plenty of sea salt and freshly cracked pepper (i use white peppercorns but that’s up to you) and place into an oven proof frying pan over a med heat. keep an eye on it now and after 2-3 minutes it should be starting to turn golden brown, texture like sun… no. wait. i think i may have been straying from the point there. then straight into the oven for 6 minutes. when your oven timer goes off, and if you haven’t got one i suggest you grab one from your nearest cooking store cos they are heaps handy if you like to cook, take the duck out of the oven and turn over so that beautiful crisp skin is now facing upwards. tear a sprig of thyme into the pan and leave it to rest for 3 minutes. now carve it up with a sharp knife… please tell me you have a sharp knife. eat it in your face with a simple rocket and hazelnut salad dressed with the pan juices mixed with a Tbls of red wine vinegar.

great werk. i am really surprised you did so well!

now legs. same scenario to start with. preheat oven, season legs, now into an oven dish and into the oven for 20ish minutes until starting to brown. now reduce heat to 160C for 1.5 hours (it could take longer if it’s being stubborn) or until the meat will easily come away from the bone. it’s really nice if you roast some veges in the pan, too. duck fat veges are really good. and chuck a few sprigs of thyme and rosemary in there.

drink some wine now. you really deserve it.