SLOW-COOKED DUCK, RED CABBAGE, PANCETTA & HAZELNUTS

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As seen in QWeekend

Serves 6

6 duck Maryland portions from 2.2kg ducks
500ml duck or goose fat or light olive oil, enough to cover legs
jus, demi-glace or veal glaze (available from good delicatessens)

Duck marinade:
2 litres water
150g sea salt, such as Fleur de Sel
1 head garlic, cut in half
zest of 1 orange, in strips using a potato peeler
zest of 1 lemon, in strips using a potato peeler
few sprigs each of thyme and rosemary
1 bay leaf
3-4 star anise

Red Cabbage, Pancetta & Hazelnuts:
olive oil
1 onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1 small or ½ large red cabbage, shredded
125ml good-quality red-wine vinegar,
90g brown sugar, lightly packed
½ cup flat-leaf parsley, picked, washed and roughly chopped
12 slices pancetta, grilled until crisp
50g hazelnuts, roasted and skins removed

Place all the ingredients for the duck marinade in a large saucepan over moderate heat, stirring to dissolve the salt. Bring to the boil, remove from heat and set aside to cool completely.

Prepare duck portions by removing each thigh bone, then running a sharp knife around the bone just below the knuckle of each leg – this allows the meat to shrink down during cooking. Place portions in a shallow dish and pour over cooled marinade. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours.

Remove duck portions from marinade, rinse in a bowl of fresh cold water, changing water several times. Drain then pat dry with kitchen paper. Lay in a baking dish that will hold the legs fairly snug.

Preheat oven to 130°C. Heat duck fat or oil in a saucepan until very hot. Pour over duck, enough to totally cover the legs, then place dish in oven and slow cook for 2-3 hours or until tender. Cool, then store duck in a clean container covered with the cooking fat to seal and preserve. Refrigerate until required.

Preheat oven to 180°C. Remove duck from fat and heat in oven until warm, then place under a preheated hot grill until just prior to serving, to crisp skin.

Meanwhile, for the red cabbage, heat a little olive oil in a heavy-based frying pan over moderate heat. Add onion and garlic, sweat until onion is transparent. Add cabbage and sauté until soft. Add vinegar and brown sugar; mix lightly, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Remove lid and cook a further 5 minutes. Lastly fold through parsley.

To serve, divide warm cabbage among serving plates; top with pancetta and hazelnuts. Place duck legs over the cabbage. Drizzle jus over and around.