The ‘OMG, how easy was that?!’ Chinese Style Ducklegs

chinese duck

As well as a ridonkulous amount of food and recipe books in my household (153 at last count. Yes, I am the crazy-lady book hoarder – what of it?), I have what is known, somewhat ominously in our house as ‘the folder’. The folder is a stuffed foolscap file full of cut outs from papers and magazines, hand written recipes, lists (lots of lists), recipe cards from supermarkets and stolen liberated sample menus. Every now and then I get the folder out, in search of inspiration. After all, if I liked the look of  it enough to cut it out, write it down, or liberate it, I should like it enough to make it. It doesn’t always work like that of course and I might just settle for cooking some pasta and heating through some pesto. But every now and then I take a deep breath and try something out. And tonight, I had some duck legs hanging about in the freezer, so this was what I did. Serves 2, but completely easily doubled (or trebled, but boy would you need a big pot)

  • two duck legs, defrosted if frozen
  • 500 ml chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 chilli, finely chopped (remove the seeds if you’re not into heat – its really the flavour you’re after)
  • 1 tsp finely chopped ginger
  • 25ml rice vinegar (or cider vinegar, or white wine vinegar. Either will  do at an absolute push)
  • 35 ml soy sauce
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 tbsp five spice powder
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tbsp runny hunny
  • 10g cornflour, mixed with 50 ml water

Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 6. First, get a large frying pan and put it on the heat. When it’s hot, put the duck legs on it and brown them all over. Put the browned duck into a casserole dish. In the remaining duck fat, this time over a medium- low heat, put in the ginger, garlic and chilli and fry for a few minutes, continuing to move them round in the pan so they don;t stick and burn. Add these to the duck legs in the casserole dish.

Combine all of the rest of the ingredients, except the cornflour in a saucepan. Stirring, bring to simmering point and then pour it over the ducklegs in the casserole dish and put it in the oven. Cook for an hour. After this, remove the duck from the sauce and leave it in a warm place (the turned off oven with the door open is ideal). Add the cornflour and water mixture and slowly over a low heat, bring back up to simmering point again, stirring until thickened. This would suit serving on a bed of rice, but I had some stir-fried purple sprouting broccoli instead. My only disappointment is that simmering in the sauce makes the duck skin lose its crispiness, but the tender tasty meat more than compensated.