Mark Hix recipe: Braised wild duck with plums

Serves 4
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Indy Lifestyle Online

This is a take on the Persian dish, Faisinjan, which is traditionally served with duck, lamb or chicken. As we are in game season, it sort of makes sense to use wild duck, pintail duck or widgeon, and British plums instead of pomegranates for that sweet and savoury flavour. You can use any plum variety.

2 oven-ready wild ducks
1tbsp vegetable oil
2 large onions, peeled, halved and finely chopped
½tsp ground cinnamo
A good pinch of freshly-grated nutmeg
A good pinch of saffron strands
½tsp freshly ground black pepper
200-250g plums, halved, stones removed
1tbsp brown sugar
1tsp tomato purée
70g ground walnuts
1.5 litres chicken stock

Preheat the oven to 230C/gas mark 8. Quarter the ducks with a heavy chopping knife, cutting away any excess backbone without any meat on it, and lay skin-side-up in a roasting tray. Season lightly with salt and roast for about 15 minutes until nicely coloured. Meanwhile, in a large pan or flameproof casserole, gently sauté the onions in the vegetable oil with the cinnamon, nutmeg, saffron and black pepper, stirring occasionally until soft.

In a blender, purée half of the plums with a spoonful or so of the chicken stock. Then add this, along with the sugar, tomato purée, walnuts and remaining chicken stock, to the onions.

Add the duck, cover the pan, bring to the boil and simmer gently for 40 minutes, skimming every so often, then add the remaining halved plums and continue cooking for another 15-20 minutes. The sauce should have thickened but if not, remove the pieces of duck, return the pan to a medium heat and cook until it has reduced and thickened, stirring to prevent it sticking.

Serve with basmati rice or Persian-style rice, which is boiled until all the water has evaporated, then finished in a pan with butter on a medium flame to give it a crisp texture.

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