Braised duck with herbs, chestnuts and gremolata

Braised duck with herbs, chestnuts and gremolata

Leiths How to Cook
Peter Cassidy


Quantity Ingredient
1 duck, about 1.5 kg
2 fennel sprigs
1 rosemary sprig
2 flat-leaf parsley sprigs
2 oregano sprigs
2 thyme sprigs
3 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
100ml olive oil
120ml vin santo
100 g piece pancetta
6 shallots
120ml Brown chicken and veal stock
50g dried cherries
4 cloves
1 cinnamon stick
12 vacuum-packed, cooked, peeled chestnuts
freshly ground black pepper

For the gremolata

Quantity Ingredient
small handful parsley sprigs
1/2 orange
1/2 lemon


  1. Joint the duck into 8 pieces (as for jointing after cooking). Trim off any excess skin and fat. Working in 2 batches, place the duck pieces skin side down in a large, lidded sauté pan or flameproof casserole, and place over a low heat to render the fat beneath the skin, about 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, strip the herb leaves from the stalks and finely chop. Peel and crush the garlic. Place the herbs, garlic and fennel seeds in a bowl and add all but 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, with some salt and pepper.
  3. Remove the browned duck pieces to a plate and allow to cool, then rub the herb mixture into the meat side of each piece. Pour off the rendered fat from the sauté pan, then deglaze the pan with half of the Vin Santo. Pour this déglaçage into a small bowl and set aside.
  4. Wipe out the pan with kitchen paper. Derind the pancetta and cut into lardons. Halve, peel and finely dice the shallots.
  5. Heat the remaining olive oil in the pan and fry the pancetta until golden, then remove and set aside. Add the shallots to the pan and sauté until starting to soften and colour. Deglaze with the remaining Vin Santo and the reserved déglaçage (if not bitter or burnt-tasting). Add the stock and bring to a simmer, then add the lardons, dried cherries, cloves, cinnamon stick and some salt and pepper. Add all the duck pieces except for the breast portions, ensuring the meat is skin side up. There should be enough liquid to come one-third of the way up the duck, leaving the skin exposed.
  6. Cover and cook over a low heat until the duck is tender, about 1¼–1½ hours. Add a little water, about 75 ml, if the sauce is becoming dry. About 10–15 minutes before the end of the cooking time, add the chestnuts and the breast pieces.
  7. To make the gremolata, finely chop enough parsley leaves to give you 1 tablespoon and finely grate the zest from the orange and lemon. Mix together in a bowl. Heat the oven to 120°C.
  8. Once the duck is cooked and tender (the meat should come away from the leg bone easily), remove to a serving dish, trimming any exposed bones, and keep warm in the low oven. Taste the sauce and reduce if necessary to intensify the flavour. Remove and discard the cinnamon stick and adjust the seasoning.
  9. Pour the sauce around the duck and sprinkle the gremolata over to serve.
Leiths School of food and wine
cookery course
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