Kerala Beef Curry – Nadan Beef

Beef Nadan Curry

We recently returned from a wonderful vacation to the Maldives where we had the opportunity to sample some amazing curries. The Maldives are only about 500 miles from the Southern tip of India and it’s normal for many of the resorts to have a variety of Indian inspired dishes on their menus. This is as close as we’ve come to eating what I imagine is very authentic Indian food, and since we’ve returned I’ve been craving a really good curry and especially one from Kerala or Goa which, given their proximity to the Maldives, is the Indian food most represented on the menus. This Kerala beef curry or beef Nadan captures all the wonderful flavours that are characteristic of food from that region. You can make this as spicy or as mild as you like, the version below produces a medium hot curry but if I were serving this to the whole family I would tone down the chilli element. Don’t be put off by what may seem like a long list of ingredients because the actual cooking and preparation are all very simple. A trip to India is on our bucket list but I think it may be a few years away, in the meantime this curry will help keep my cravings at bay.

Ingredients – Serves 4-6 and freezes well

I kg beef, cubed – I used chuck
2 medium sized tomatoes, diced
2 medium sized onions, sliced
3 long mild long green chillies, cut into large pieces. If you want less heat remove the seeds or even just add one chilli but leave it whole
8 cardamom pods
8 cloves
8 black peppercorns
3 dried bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
3 star anise
Leaves from 2 strands of curry leaves
5 good sized cloves garlic
2 inch piece of ginger
100ml ghee or coconut oil or vegetable oil
½ teaspoons chilli powder – use can use less if you prefer a milder curry
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
Coriander leaves – for garnishing

Method

Place the bay leaves, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, black peppercorns and star anise in a dry skillet and cook over medium heat for a few minutes to lightly toast them. Cool slightly then grind them in a coffee/spice grinder or in a mortar and pestle, set aside.

  
Heat the oil in  a heavy based saucepan. Add the garlic, onion, curry leaves and a pinch of salt and cook until soft and slightly golden. Add the ginger and cook for another few minutes. Next add the chilli powder, paprika, coriander, turmeric and a small amount of water (about 3-4 tablespoons) and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, green chillies and beef. Fry the beef until it changes colour and then add a heaped teaspoon of salt. Add enough boiling water to just cover the meat. Bring to a simmer and cook, partially covered for about 1½ – 2 hours or until the meat is just tender.

  Nadan Beef

Check the seasoning and add more salt if you need to. The second part of the cooking process is to turn up the heat and let the curry cook on a rapid simmer until the liquid is nicely reduced and thickened. The amount of time this takes will vary depending on how much liquid there is but you can roughly count on 20-30 minutes. This stage of the cooking process not only thickens the sauce but also intensifies all the flavours and takes the meat to the fork-tender stage. Make sure you are nearby whilst the curry is reducing and stir it often to ensure it doesn’t catch and burn. Once the sauce is at the desired consistency add the ground spices and stir them through well. Garnish with coriander leaves before serving.

Beef Nadan

Marinated Eggplant

Ottolenghi's Marinated Eggplan

This is another winner of a recipe from Yottam Ottolenghi. If you have a fondness for eggplant you’re going to love this dish. I normally find eggplant that has been baked rather than fried a little on the dry side. It’s great that it’s healthier but it lacks the silky soft quality that eggplant has when it’s been fried. Ottolenghi has found the perfect cure for this by marinading the baked eggplant in a dressing of garlic, herbs, lemon and olive oil which slowly seeps into the eggplant infusing it with wonderful tastes and aromas. I love side dishes that can be prepared in advance and this one not only can be, but has to be. I find the longer it sits the better it tastes and I usually make it in the morning and leave it at room temperature to marinade until dinner time. You could also make it the night before and keep it in the fridge but make sure you let it come fully to room temperature before serving. These marinated eggplants would also be wonderful as an appetiser on top of bruschetta or just served with some warm flat bread.

Ingredients – serves 4  Adapted from Ottolenghi, The Cookbook

3 medium-sized eggplants
olive oil for brushing
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
Marinade:
4 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons lemon juice
1 mild red chilli, seeded and finely diced
2 tablespoons finely chopped coriander
2 tablespoons finely chopped oregano
1-2 garlic cloves finely diced
Salt & freshly ground pepper

Method

Preheat the oven to 220C.  Trim the stalk end off the eggplants, then cut each eggplant in half, widthwise.  Cut the fat lower piece lengthwise in half and then cut each half into 3 wedges.  Do the same with the thinner piece, but cut each half into 2 wedges.  You should end up  with 10 similar size pieces from each eggplant with skin on their curved side. Line a baking sheet with non stick paper and place the eggplant on the tray skin side down. Brush each piece generously with oil and season well with salt and pepper. Place the tray in the top or middle section of the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until the edges of the eggplant are golden and they are soft to the touch.

Ottolenghi Eggplant Ottolenghi's Marinade for Eggplant

Whilst the eggplant are roasting place all the marinade ingredients into a bowl and mix well to combine. As soon as the eggplant are done toss them gently through the dressing until all the slices are well coated but try to ensure you don’t mush up the eggplant or break them as you mix. The eggplant tastes best when they have at least a couple of hours sitting in the dressing. Keep them at room temperature in a cool place for up to a few hours or place in the fridge but make sure that you bring them to room temperature before serving.

Ottolenghi's Marinated Aubergine

Nigel Slater’s Garlic Crumbed Chicken

Nigel Slater's Garlic Crumbed Chicken

This is one of those very fast and simple mid-week meals that looks and tastes like it took a  lot of time and effort to create. It reminded me somewhat of chicken Kiev, but with a healthier fresher approach. Don’t be too mislead by the title, whilst there is enough garlic in the dish to make a subtle impact it’s by no means overpowering, especially as the garlic-breadcrumb mixture is first pan fried and then baked again on top of the chicken. The chicken can be prepared hours in advance and kept refrigerated and the crumb mixture can also be prepped ahead of time and then added to the chicken just before baking. If you have trouble sourcing taleggio cheese you can substitute with brie or any other soft cheese, although I think goat cheese would be too overpowering. This is total comfort food and is perfect accompanied with mashed potatoes and a salad. A great family meal for busy mid-week that you  can get on the table in less than an hour from start to finish and unlike a lot of “quick” meals this one leaves you with minimal dishes and mess to clean up.

Ingredients – Serves 2  Adapted from Nigel Slater

 2 chicken breasts, skin removed
⅓ cup finely chopped parsley
150g taleggio cheese, cut into strips
75g butter
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
3 rashers smoked streaky bacon, finely chopped – I used speck
2 large handfuls fresh breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

Preheat the oven to 180C. Score the chicken breasts 3 – 4 times diagonally across the top to within 1-2cm of the bottom. Finely chop the parsley and cut the taleggio into strips. Roll the taleggio in the parsley and then stuff the cheese into the scored gaps in the chicken breasts. Rub the olive oil over the chicken and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place the chicken on a shallow sided baking tray. I like to use a porcelain dish that I can take straight to the table – the chicken oozes out some cheese as it cooks and it’s nice to capture this in the pan it is served in. The chicken can be prepared up to this point in advance and kept covered in the fridge until you’re ready to bake. You will need to take it out of the fridge an hour beforehand to let it come to room temperature.

 Nigel Slater's Garlic Crumbed ChickenNigel Slater's Garlic Crumbed Chicken

To make the crumb mixture, melt the butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the chopped garlic and bacon to the pan and cook for three minutes, or until the garlic and bacon are starting to brown. Add the breadcrumbs to the pan and cook for a further three minutes. Scatter the breadcrumb mix over the chicken breasts, patting them down lightly. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.

Nigel Slater's Garlic Crumbed Chicken

Banoffee Pavlova

Banoffee Pavlova

Granted it’s not the prettiest looking dessert but I can’t think of a more delicious combination than caramel, cream and bananas. Banoffee is normally served as a pie but it also makes a wonderful topping for pavlova, in fact I almost prefer it as it’s somewhat lighter and not as sweet. This is a very easy dessert to pull together but the pavlova does need to be made a good few hours in advance so as it has time to cool down properly in the oven. I normally make it the day before and just leave the pavlova in the cooled oven overnight and only take it out when I am ready to assemble the topping which should really only be done an hour or two before serving. Keeping your pavlova in the cooling oven is also the safest way to ensure it doesn’t get soft and sticky on hot humid days. If you’re able to buy cans of pre-cooked condensed milk (which is sometimes labeled as caramel filling or topping) also saves a lot of time. Nestle make these in Australia and they’re available in most supermarkets. You can boil your own cans of condensed milk but it takes a while and a close eye needs to be kept on them to avoid a messy disaster if they explode.

Ingredients – Serves 6-8

7 egg whites at room temperature
225g caster sugar
2 teaspoons cornflour
400g tin of prepared caramel (made from condensed milk)
3 bananas, peeled and sliced
300ml whipping cream
2 tablespoons grated dark chocolate

Method

Preheat the oven to 180C. Cover a baking sheet with nonstick baking paper. Whisk the egg whites until they are just stiff. Gradually add the sugar, a little at a time, whisking well after each addition. Continue until all the sugar is incorporated. Whisk for another 1-2 minutes until the meringue is stiff and glossy. Whisk in the cornflour. Spoon the mixture into a circle on the baking paper, making a slight dip in the middle. Place the baking sheet in the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 130C and cook for 1½ hours.

Perfect Pavlova Perfect Pavlova
Banoffee Pavlova Banoffee Pavlova Banoffee Pavlova

Turn the oven off and leave the meringue inside until the oven is cool. Peel the pavlova off the baking paper and place onto a serving plate. Beat the caramel to soften it and then spread over the pavlova, spooning some over the sides. Top with the slices of banana. Whisk the double cream until soft peaks form and then spoon over the bananas. Finish off with a sprinkling of grated chocolate.

Banoffee Pavlova

Roasted Green Beans & Tomatoes

Side Dish to Feed a Crowd - Roasted Green Beans & Tomatoes

I’m always on the look out for new side dishes, especially ones that don’t require any last minute preparation and can feed a large number of people without dirtying all the pots and pans in the cupboards or using up all the stove burners. This roasted green bean and tomato dish delivers all of the above along with great flavour. Green beans are such a versatile vegetable and one of the few that can be both slow cooked and quickly blanched. Slow cooking concentrates their flavour and makes them very tender without losing their shape or becoming mushy. The key thing to note in this recipe is that the beans and tomatoes need to be put into a cold oven, unlike most recipes you shouldn’t pre-heat the oven first but only turn it on once the beans are in there. This allows the beans and tomatoes to cook through first and then crisp up. This is half way between a warm salad and a side dish and you can choose to serve it hot straight from the oven or at room temperature. What I normally do is make it a few hours in advance, place it on a serving platter and leave it out at room temperature and then give it a very quick blast in the microwave before serving which just makes it slightly warm.

Ingredients – Serves 6 – recipe can be easily doubled or halved

500g green beans, trimmed
2 punnets cherry or grape tomatoes, I like to leave some whole and cut some in half
3 tablespoons olive oil
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
Salt & freshly ground black pepper

Method

Place the beans and the tomatoes on a shallow rimmed baking sheet (if you’re dish is too deep the vegetables will steam rather than crispy up). Add the oil and vinegar and season well with salt and pepper. Toss the beans and tomatoes making sure they are nicely coated with the oil and vinegar and spread them out in an even layer on the baking sheet. Place pan in a cold oven (see note above) and set temperature to 220C.

Perfect Side Dish to Feed a Crowd - Roasted Green Beans & Tomatoes OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

After 15 minutes give them a stir and then check them every few minutes until the beans are cooked through and a little crisp and the tomatoes have collapsed. You need to watch them carefully as they can get charred very quickly. Remove the pan from the oven and place the vegetables on a serving platter. Pour any remaining pan juices over the vegetable (sometimes I add a little more oil and balsamic to the hot tray if there isn’t enough left) and serve either straight away or keep un-chilled and serve at room temperature.

 A Side Dish to Feed a Crowd - Roasted Geen Beans & Tomatoes

Fideuà – The Other Paella

Prawn, Chorizo & Squid Fideuà

Fideuà is a wonderful dish originating from Catalan Spain and is very similar to it’s better known cousin, paella. The main difference being that instead of rice, thin vermicelli noodles are used, and unlike Italian pasta dishes the noodles here are cooked in only a small amount of liquid just as the rice would be cooked in a traditional paella. And just like paella there are many different ingredients you can choose from to make fideuà. I chose chorizo, squid and prawns as the main components and made a fish stock using the prawn shells. Using a very flavourful broth can make the difference between a good fideuà and a great one. This is one of those moreish dishes where you think you’ve made far too much but it’s so good you can’t stop eating it. Fideuà would make a great meal for informal entertaining, where the dish it is cooked in can be bought straight to the table for everyone to dig in and help themselves. You don’t have to use a paella pan, any round  shallow skillet or frypan that is oven safe will do, but something without long handles is best. I found fideuà easier to make than a traditional paella and I also found the noodles to be somewhat lighter than rice, making this a great dish to serve in warmer weather.

Ingredients – Serves 3-4

 6-8 large uncooked prawns, heads and shells removed and reserved
Olive oil
200g squid, sliced
1 cup thinly sliced Spanish chorizo
1 onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup tomato passata
750ml best quality vegetable or chicken stock
Large pinch of saffron
Salt & pepper
250g angel hair pasta broken into 1 inch pieces

Method

To make the stock, heat a about a tablespoon of olive oil in a medium size saucepan and when hot add the reserved prawn shells and heads. Cook stirring and pressing down hard on the shells and heads for a good few minutes. Add a pinch of salt, some freshly ground pepper and the saffron. Stir again then add the stock and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer covered for 30 minutes.

   Fideuà Prawns for Fideuà

To make the fideuà,  preheat the oven to 180C. Heat a large shallow skillet which is oven proof over medium heat and add a small splash of olive oil. When hot add the prawns and season with salt and pepper. Cook for a minute on each side, until just lightly seared. Remove and set aside. To the same pan add the squid and a little more oil if required, season and cook for a couple of minutes flipping them around to evenly colour them. Remove and set aside. Add the onions, along with a little more oil if the pan is dry, and cook until the onions are slightly soft. Add the chorizo and garlic to the onions and cook stirring until the chorizo start to release their oil and have browned a little.

Prawns for Fideuà Squid for Fideuà Chorizo for Fideuà
Fideuà Fideuà Prawn & Chorizo Fideuà

Add the noodles, stir and cook for a few minutes until all the noodles are coated with the oil and slightly toasted. Return the squid to the pan along with the passata, tomato paste and some salt and pepper and stir well. Add enough stock to just cover the noodles. Bring to a simmer and cook over low heat, uncovered, until almost all the liquid is evaporated. At this point the noodles should be almost completely cooked. Place the prawns around the dish and place in the oven for 20-25 minutes by which time the noodles will be soft and the top will be slightly golden and crunchy. Serve straight away with a green salad.

Paella made with Noodles

Malaysian Beef Satay with Peanut Sauce

Poh's Malaysian Satay

Satay would have to be one of the most popular and well known South-East Asian dishes. I think the main draw, apart from being delicious, is that it’s mild enough to appeal to almost anyone and the accompanying peanut sauce is both exotic and comfortingly familiar. There are two main versions of satay, Indonesian and Malaysian with the difference being most apparent in the peanut sauce. Indonesian satay uses coconut milk and is milder in flavour whereas the Malaysian version is thicker and richer with more spices. I love them both but I’ve eaten more of the Indonesian variety which is why I decided to try this recipe by former Masterchef contestant Poh Ling Yeow. Poh hails from Malaysia so I was confident that the recipe would be authentic and none of her recipes I’ve tried have ever failed me, and this one was no exception. I used beef fillet which I know may sound extravagant but with fillet you can get away with more time on the grill without running the risk of tough meat and I like the marinade in the satay to develop and little bit of char. You could of course use other cuts such as rump, sirloin or chuck, or even opt for chicken or pork. I served the satay as a main meal with steamed rice, fresh pineapple and cucumbers, but you could also serve them on their own as an appetiser or as finger food with drinks.

Ingredients – Serves 4 generously   Adapted from Poh Ling Yeow

20-25 bamboo skewers soaked in water for 1 hour
1 kg beef fillet/tenderloin, cut into 1 x 2 x 3cm pieces, you can also use other cuts of beef or chicken thighs (see note above)

Marinade
2 tablespoons ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground cumin
5 small shallots or one medium spanish onion chopped
2 cloves garlic sliced
1 tsp ground turmeric or 2 cm fresh, chopped
4 stalks lemongrass, sliced finely (pale part only and remove any dry outer layers)
1 cm galangal chopped
4 tablespoons brown sugar
1½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon dark sweet soy
4 tablespoons oil

Homemade Satay Sauce – makes double the amount of sauce required but freezes well
15 small shallots or 2 medium spanish onions, chopped
15 dried red chillies (don’t use fresh and make sure the dried ones are large chillies as the smaller finger size ones are too hot), stalks discarded, deseeded, soaked in boiling water until soft and drained
8 cloves garlic
2 cm piece galangal, chopped
2 stalks lemongrass (pale part only and remove any dry outer layers)
1 – 2 tablespoons tamarind paste (from jar or you can use extract from pulp)
⅔ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoons salt
150ml vegetable oil
1 cup water
2 tablespoons lime juice
500g salted, roasted, crushed peanuts

 Method

For the marinade, place the lemongrass, shallots, galangal and garlic in a food processor and blitz until it forms a fine paste. Remove and place into a bowl and add the rest of the marinade ingredients. Stir well to combine. Add the meat and stir throughly so as all the pieces are coated. Marinate the meat overnight (or as long as you can) in a snaplock bag making sure all the air is pushed out first or even better still if you have a crivac machine as the marinate will further penetrate the meat with no air pockets surrounding the meat. Skewer the meat and barbeque or grill, continually turning so it doesn’t burn, until the meat is just cooked.

     

To make the peanut sauce, place shallots, garlic, galangal, rehydrated chillies and lemongrass into a food processor and blitz to form a fine paste. Don’t be tempted to add water as this will make the paste difficult to caramelise. You can also use a mortar and pestle but you must add only small amounts of the ingredients at a time, ensuring you have a fine paste before you add more ingredients. Set aside.

    

Heat oil in a heavy based saucepan or wok over medium heat and pour paste in. Fry, stirring continuously to make sure the bottom isn’t catching, until there is very little steam rising from the sauce and you can definitely see it caramelising and smell it getting fragrant. Be patient with this step as it’s vital for the onions etc to be well cooked and golden before proceeding. Add water and bring to boil. Add tamarind, lime, sugar, salt and half the peanuts. Bring to boil again, and simmer until thickened. remove from heat and set aside till required. When you’re ready to serve, re-heat and stir through the remaining peanuts.

Poh's Malaysian Satay with Peanut Sauce

Zia Sonya’s Gnocchi

Easy Foolproof Gnocchi

As I mentioned in my last post my brother-in-laws aunt makes wonderful gnocchi and at a recent family dinner she kindly taught me just how she does it. Gnocchi has always been something I’ve found hard to master, they either  turn out like rubber bullets or are so soft they break apart in the water. Zia Sonya’s method produces perfectly textured gnocchi – just the right amount of density whilst still remaining lovely and light. There are a lot of different techniques for making gnocchi which can make things even more confusing. Some recipes call for the potatoes to be steamed and not boiled whilst others insist that the potatoes have to be riced or mashed whilst still hot. Zia Sonya does neither and they were perfect, turns out gnocchi aren’t that scary after all. We served the gnocchi with this beef short rib ragu but they would be wonderful with any sauce, from a  simple tomato to a decadent creamy gorgonzola. If you want to freeze the gnocchi, place them spread apart on a baking sheet or plate and place in the freezer. When the gnocchi have frozen transfer them to a freezer bag.

Ingredients – Serves 4-6

1kg unpeeled medium-sized potatoes (try to make sure they are all roughly the same size) – we used desiree
1½ cups plain flour, plus extra as needed
1 egg
1 egg yolk

Method

Wash the potatoes well and place in a large pot. Cover with cold water, put on the lid and bring to the boil. Simmer potatoes until they are tender all the way through. Depending on the size and type of potato this could take anywhere from 20-30 minutes. When the potatoes are cooked take them out of the water straight away and drain them well. When they are cool enough to handle peel them and using a ricer or a mouli  mash them into a large bowl.

Potatoes for Gnocchi

Add the egg and egg yolk and lightly work it into the mashed potatoes. Flour a work surface well and dump the potato and egg mixture out. Add the flour, about a half a cup at a time and using your hands lightly incorporate it into to the potatoes. You don’t want to overwork the potatoes or the flour too much – if you do you’ll activate the gluten in the flour and the starch in the potatoes which will toughen the gnocchi.

Dough for Gnocchi Dough for Gnocchi

Your dough when it is ready should be smooth, not sticky or wet and should look similar to the second photo above. Depending on the type of potatoes you’ve used you may need to add more flour, sometimes a lot more, there are a lot of variables so just judge it by feel and add more or less until you get the right consistency.

Cutting Gnocchi Foolproof Gnocchi

To shape the gnocchi, take a portion of dough and using your hands roll it on a well floured surface into a long roll about 1½ cm’s thick. Using a knife cut the gnocchi into short lengths, making sure they’re all roughly the same size. Place on a floured tray or plate and repeat with the remaining dough. If you wish to make ridges on the gnocchi, roll them on the back of a fork but I don’t think it’s necessary. To cook the gnocchi bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Gently add the gnocchi and cook, stirring them around very lightly. Once they rise to the surface cook them for another minute then gently lift them out using a slotted spoon. You want to dress your gnocchi pretty quickly so have some sauce standing by that you can add them to or else place them on a serving platter and gently combine them with some sauce. If you want to prepare your gnocchi ahead of time place them into a large baking dish, add some sauce making sure all the gnocchi are coated. Cover the dish with foil and place into a low oven. When you’re ready to serve, plate the gnocchi and add extra sauce on top.

Gnocchi with Beef Short Rib Ragu

Beef Short Rib Ragu

Beef Short Rib Ragu

Just before Christmas we had a family dinner at my brother-in-laws Aunt’s house. Zia Sonia is an amazing cook and when I heard she was making her famous gnocchi for dinner I volunteered to bring along the sauce and asked if I could come early to learn how she makes her pillow-soft gnocchi. I’ll share her technique and recipe in my next post but for now here is the ragu I made. The recipe is from Australian Gourmet Traveller and it’s a real keeper. Whilst it’s not difficult to execute it does take a lot of inactive cooking time – six hours to be exact but it’s worth it for the depth of flavour the sauce develops. I also like the quite unusual method of adding the stock in small batches and letting it cook down between each addition, creating layers of intense flavour. If you can, try to make the sauce a day in advance of when you’re going to serve it, not only will the flavours develop more but it’s also easier to skim off the fat once it’s been cooled in the fridge overnight. Gnocchi is a great accompaniment for this ragu but it would also be very good with pappardelle or fettucine.

Ingredients – Serves 8 generously & freezes well   Adapted from Australian Gourmet Traveller
You’ll need to start this recipe the day before

1.8 kg beef short ribs
2 cups red wine
3 tablespoons olive oil
onions, finely chopped
garlic cloves, minced
1 each carrot and celery stalk, diced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
8 cups beef stock
800gm canned whole tomatoes, crushed by hand
rosemary sprigs
bay leaf

Method

Place beef ribs in a non-reactive container that fits ribs snugly, add wine, cover and refrigerate overnight. Preheat oven to 150C. Heat oil in a casserole over medium heat, remove ribs from wine (reserve 1 cup), pat dry on absorbent paper and cook, turning occasionally, until golden (5-7 minutes). Remove ribs and set aside, reduce heat to low, add vegetables and tomato paste and stir occasionally until tender (12-15 minutes).

     Beef Short Ribs for Ragu Beef Short Ribs for Ragu 

Add reserved red wine and cook until reduced by half (5-7 minutes), scraping residue as you go, then add half the stock one cup at a time, reducing completely after each addition (10-12 minutes).

                Beef Short Rib Ragu Shredded Beef Short Rib for Ragu

Add tomato, rosemary, bay leaf, remaining stock and ribs, cover and roast in the oven, turning ribs occasionally, until meat is falling from the bone (4-6 hours). When cool enough to handle, coarsely shred meat with a fork (discard bones, fatty sinew and herb stalks), season to taste and serve tossed with gnocchi (or papparadelle/fettucine) and scattered with freshly grated pecorino or parmesan cheese.

Perfect Easy Roast Duck

Easy Roast Duck

A lot of people think of duck as a difficult cut of meat to cook at home and roasting a whole duck in particular seems to cause a lot of anxiety. But in actual fact roasting duck is very simple and straight forward and given  its high fat content very forgiving as far as cooking times go. Speaking of fat, this seems to be the other reason that many may steer away from duck, and sure it’s not something to indulge in every week, but if cooked correctly most of the fat seeps away during the cooking time leaving you with very moist, tender meat and lots of lovely duck fat for the next time you’re roasting potatoes.

Easy Roast Duck

There are a lot of different methods and techniques for roasting duck with the most popular being the twice cooked method where the duck is first steamed then roasted. In my opinion there isn’t enough difference in the end result to warrant the extra effort. This easy one step roasting method is much easier. The only things to make sure of are that your duck is at room temperature, that it’s super dry and that the skin is lightly pricked all over with a fine skewer. Follow the steps below and you’ll be guaranteed crispy skin and succulent meat every time.

Ingredients – serves 3-4

1 whole duck weighing approx 2kgs
Salt & freshly ground pepper
Variations
Five spice powder for an Asian flavour
Half and orange and some thyme or sage leaves for stuffing into the cavity of the duck

Method

As soon as you bring your duck home from the market remove it from its packaging, pat it dry, place on a plate and leave it in the fridge uncovered. Leaving it overnight is best but if that’s not possible then for as long as you can.

Take the duck out of the fridge an hour before you need to roast it and preheat the oven to 220C. Once again pat it with paper towels to ensure it’s very dry. Cut away any large fat deposits near the cavity of the duck and with a fine skewer prick holes all over the skin, not deep enough to penetrate the flesh, just the top layer of skin. This will help the duck release it’s fat as it cooks.

 Fat from Roasting Duck Easy Perfect Roast Duck

Generously season the duck both inside and out with salt and pepper. Place the duck on a rack in a baking tray – it’s important to use a rack so as air circulates around the duck and also so the duck doesn’t sit in the fat it releases as it roasts. Place the pan in the oven and roast for 30 minutes. After this time reduce the heat to 180C and continue to cook for a further hour. Your basically cooking the duck for 45 minutes per kilo (so adjust according to the weight of your duck) with the first 30 minutes being at a higher heat. Halfway during the cooking time I like to remove the fat in the bottom of the tray. I use some of it to baste the duck and the rest I put aside for roasting potatoes (duck fat keeps well in the fridge for a number of weeks). When the duck has finished cooking remove it from the oven and allow it to rest uncovered for 15 minutes before carving.

 Perfect Easy Roast Duck