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Posts Tagged ‘Maggie Beer’

After years of procrastinating, I finally glazed a leg of ham!

I started with a magnificent free range, double smoked, half-leg ham made by David at Gojak’s Meats in Haberfield.

I wanted to buy a small shoulder, or a boned out leg, but Pete wouldn’t let me – he won’t eat shoulder ham, and announced (rather loudly, in the shop…sigh) that boned ham always “tastes funny because all the connective tissues are squashed up in a strange way”.

Whatever cut you use, I do think it’s important to buy one that tastes wonderful to start with, as no amount of glazing will fix a too salty or too dry ham.  I should also point out that our ham was already cooked, so it only needed heating up in the oven.

After allowing the ham to rest at room temperature for a couple of hours, we removed the rind, scored the fat, and basted it with a mixture of homemade quince paste, brown sugar and white wine, following these instructions by Maggie Beer.  In just forty minutes, it baked to a glossy, caramelised finish.

Pete’s siblings, Katey and Uncle Steve, came over for an early Christmas dinner, and we all ate until we couldn’t move.  We served the ham with a rich potato salad (dressed with a homemade two-yolk mayonnaise), sourdough ciabatta, and cucumbers picked fresh from the garden.

Now…I just need to find recipes for leftover ham!

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Since discovering that we could buy fresh Aylesbury marylands (drumstick and thigh portion) at Haverick Meats, duck has become a staple food in our house.  It’s surprisingly good value – the meat is so rich that just a couple of pieces are enough to feed my entire family!

Edit: Good news! I’ve just been told by the handsome Pave at Haverick’s that the duck marylands are coming from Thirlmere Poultry (whose ducks are all free-range).

I confitted ten marylands using this recipe by Maggie Beer…

  • 10 duck marylands
  • 200g fine sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons each fresh rosemary and thyme leaves
  • 5 bay leaves
  • enough rendered duck fat to cover – about a litre (or olive oil)

1. In a small food processor or blender, blitz the salt, herbs and bay leaves together. Rub this all over the duck pieces and refrigerate for 4 – 6 hours – the original recipe suggests overnight, but I find that makes the duck too salty for our liking.  I prepped my duck at lunchtime, and then put them into the oven after dinner.

2. Rinse the duck pieces well and dry them with a paper towel.   Preheat oven to 90C (not fan forced).  Pack the duck pieces as closely together as possible in a baking dish or casserole – Maggie says you can layer them up to two deep.

3. Heat the duck fat very gently in a saucepan until just melted, and pour over the duck pieces until they’re completely covered. If you like, tuck a couple more bay leaves and sprigs of rosemary into the oil.  I used a ceramic roasting pan, but next time I’ll use my large casserole pot, as it was impossible to get the roaster out of the oven without sloshing duck fat everywhere!

4. Cover the dish – I used foil – and bake for 10 hours (overnight), after which time the meat will be extremely tender and falling off the bone.  If you wanted to serve the pieces whole, you might wish to reduce the cooking time substantially (Raymond Blanc suggests 3 hours).

5. Carefully ladle out the clear duck fat, taking care to avoid any coloured stock settled at the bottom of the pan. To store the marylands, scatter a little salt at the bottom of a large casserole dish (to stop the juices going rancid), then pack the pieces in as tightly as possible.  Completely cover with the clear duck fat and store in the fridge.  As an aside, I asked my food chemist friend Lee about storing confit duck – here is his reply.

6. Carefully pour the remaining fat and juices into a bowl and pop it into the fridge.  After a few hours, the fat will set at the top and can be scooped off and stored, and a jellied stock will be left at the bottom of the bowl. This is gold. Unlike regular stocks which are made with water, these are the concentrated juices of the cooked duck.  I store mine in small containers in the freezer (you’ll only need a little bit to flavour a whole dish) .

Duck Rillettes

I stored six of the marylands whole and used the remaining four to make Maggie’s Duck Rilletes.  The skin and bones were discarded, and the meat finely shredded. An extra tablespoon of chopped rosemary fried in a little duck fat was stirred through the meat, which was then packed tightly into tea cups and topped with a bay leaf.

A thin layer of melted duck fat was poured over the top of each serve to seal it.  The Rillettes were stored in the fridge, and the fat scraped off before serving.  They were delicious served with a crusty sourdough and bread and butter pickles.

My friend and neighbour Maude created an amazing pasta dish using the Rillette that I gave her – she fried chopped Tuscan Kale and garlic in olive oil, then combined it with the shredded duck meat and stirred it through hot pasta.

I made a variation of this for dinner last night using chopped spinach from the garden and a couple of skinned and shredded marylands, as we’d eaten all the Rillettes. I also added a spoonful of the jellied duck stock, which intensified all the flavours.  As we already had confit duck in the fridge, we were able to turn out a delicious meal in the time it took the pasta to boil!

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