This recipe from Honey & Co: At Home should be the centrepiece for your next Christmas meal, it looks so festive and wintery. The apricots will soak up all the lovely duck juices, the skin will crisp and the whole thing will make you want to snuggle by the fire.
Don’t be intimidated by duck. This is the simplest thing to cook and really excellent for entertaining as it will not dry out, and can also be made in advance and re-heated to serve. The only thing to take into account with this recipe is that the duck legs need to be salted before cooking: a day ahead, if you can, or at least 6 hours as a minimum.
Dinner for 6–8
8 duck legs
For the salt rub
30g/1oz/2 tbsp table salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp ground ginger
2 onions, peeled and cut into wedges
2 clementines, quartered
150g/5¼oz/1 cup dried apricots
2 bay leaves
2 star anise
Mix the salt rub ingredients together and sprinkle over both sides of the duck legs. Wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for at least 6 hours, but ideally about 24 hours.
Heat your oven to 220°C/200°C fan/425°F/gas mark 7 and place the duck legs in one layer in a deep roasting tray. Roast in the oven for about 20–25 minutes or until the skin starts to colour. Carefully drain off the fat (you can keep it to roast some potatoes on another day – it lasts for ages in the fridge).
Add the onion wedges and clementines to the tray, and return to the oven for another 15 minutes. Remove the tray again, add the apricots, bay leaves and star anise, and then pour over enough water to reach just halfway up the duck legs (you may need a little more or a little less than 600ml/21fl oz/generous 2½ cups, depending on the size of your tray).
Reduce the oven temperature to 180°C/160°C fan/350°F/gas mark 4.
Cover the tray, return to the oven and cook for another 40 minutes.
Remove the cover and check the liquid level – it should still reach about halfway up the legs. Baste all over, re-cover and return to the oven for another 30 minutes.
Remove the cover, baste again and return to the oven for 15 minutes, before basting one last time. Push any apricots into the liquid so that they don’t burn, then cook for a final 15 minutes to finish crisping up the skin.
Extracted from Honey & Co: At Home by Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich (Pavilion), out now. Photograph by Patricia Niven.