Tony Bilson

Baked duck with tomato and herbs

"This dish is based on one that I had at the Restaurant de la Pyramide in Vienne, south of Lyon, in the mid-1970s. It has remained a favourite at home because it can be prepared well in advance, and then heated just before dinner."

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

2 x 2kg Peking ducks or Barbary ducks
5 onions
6 tomatoes, peeled and seeded
2 golden shallots, chopped
8 garlic cloves, crushed
125g breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons clarified butter
90g melted butter
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon fresh marjoram leaves, chopped
2 bay leaves
2 marjoram sprigs
2 thyme sprigs
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

Season the cavities of the ducks with salt and pepper and stuff with marjoram and thyme sprigs, and 2 chopped onions.

Season the outside of the ducks with salt and pepper and cut the skin with a sharp knife in a diamond pattern to a depth of 2cm.

Prick the skin around the base of the legs with the point of a knife or fork.

Melt the 2 tablespoons butter in a heavy baking pan and brown the ducks on all sides.

Place them in a preheated oven, 220 degrees C (430 degrees F), and roast for 1 hour, basting with the fat every 10 minutes.

Take the ducks from the oven and allow to cool. Tip the fat from the pan and reserve.

Do not clean the pan as it will be used to finish the dish.

The duck flesh should still be pink and the skin crisp.

When cool, carve the ducks, dividing them in the following manner: the legs into one drumstick and the thighs cut in half; the wings cut into two and each breast cut into two.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the duck fat in a saucepan over a medium heat.

Add three sliced onions, 6 garlic cloves and stir gently until soft.

When translucent, add the tomatoes, increase the heat and cook briskly.

Add 1 teaspoon thyme leaves, tablespoon marjoram leaves, bay leaves, vinegar and salt and pepper.

Cook for a further 5 minutes over a high heat to evaporate the liquid.

The tomato mixture should be thick, with pieces of the tomato still a little firm.

Heat the baking pan and add the tomato mix to it, using the tomatoes to deglaze the pan, and pulling any caramelised juices into the sauce.

Lay the duck pieces on the tomato mix, skin side up.

Mix together breadcrumbs, melted butter, shallots, parsley, remaining garlic, thyme, and marjoram and sprinkle the duck with this mix.

Bake in a 180 degree oven for 15 minutes, or until the crumbs are golden.

Baked duck with tomato and herbs

Preamble
"This dish is based on one that I had at the Restaurant de la Pyramide in Vienne, south of Lyon, in the mid-1970s. It has remained a favourite at home because it can be prepared well in advance, and then heated just before dinner."