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Recipe: Niklas Ekstedt's wild duck confit and overnight-baked cabbage

27 August 2020

Taken from Ekstedt: The Nordic Art of Analogue Cooking, by Niklas Ekstedt.

This recipe is from the wood-fired oven section of the book.

At the end of an evening's service, with the wood oven still warm, we use the remaining heat for overnight baking. Cooking a whole cabbage for a long time in a slowly decreasing temperature in the wood oven results in an almost sweet and caramelised taste. Poaching the wild duck leg in duck fat gives a deep flavour that works beautifully with the acidic element of pickled young spruce shoots.

Serves 4 as a main course

For overnight-baked cabbage

  • 1 white cabbage
  • Butter, for searing

For wild duck confit

  • 4 wild duck legs
  • 400ml duck fat
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 5 black peppercorns
  • Sea salt

For wild duck jus

  • 1kg wild duck carcasses, skin and fat removed
  • 2 celery sticks
  • 1 large onion, cut in half
  • 2 medium carrots, cut in half
  • 200ml red wine
  • 2.5 litres chicken stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 sprigs of thyme
  • 5 black peppercorns
  • Sea salt

For pickled spruce shoots

  • 100g sugar
  • 50ml ättika (Swedish white vinegar)
  • ½tsp sea salt
  • 200ml spruce shoots

For butter-fried parsley

  • About 3tbs clarified butter
  • 8 parsley leaves
  • Sea salt

Preheat the oven to 150°C.

If necessary, trim the core of the cabbage to make a flat base, then set it on a baking tray and cook in the oven for 10-12 hours until soft in the centre. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool for one hour.

Season the duck legs with salt. Put them in a pan and cover with the duck fat. Add the bay leaves and peppercorns. Heat up to 82°C and keep at this temperature for three to four hours until the meat is coming away from the bone. Remove from the heat and cool down to around 50°C. Lift the duck legs from the fat and leave to drain. (If made ahead, keep in the fridge and heat up slowly for serving.)

Heat the oven to 220°C. Roast the duck carcasses in a baking tray in the oven until golden brown. Transfer the bones to a stockpot.

Put the celery, onion and carrot in the baking tray and roast until golden brown, then add to the stockpot.

Drain the fat from the baking tray and deglaze with the red wine. Bring to the boil, then pour the wine into the stockpot along with the chicken stock. Add the herbs and peppercorns. Bring to the boil, skimming off any scum that comes to the surface. Simmer for about four hours. Remove from the heat and let sit for one hour. Strain into a clean pan and reduce until you have 200ml-300ml of jus. Season with salt.

To pickle the spruce shoots, combine the sugar, ättika, salt and 150ml water in a saucepan. Bring to the boil over a medium-high heat, whisking to dissolve the sugar. Lower the heat, add the spruce shoots and simmer for 10 minutes. Leave to cool. (This keeps in the fridge for one month.)

For the butter-fried parsley, heat enough clarified butter in a wide pan to make a thin layer on the bottom. Carefully place the parsley leaves flat in the pan and sear over a medium heat for about a minute on each side until crispy. Drain on kitchen paper and sprinkle with salt.

Cut four slices from the overnight-baked cabbage (keep the rest in the fridge for up to three days) and sear in butter on both sides. Put the confit duck legs, skin side down, in another pan, heat up and sear over a medium heat.

Top the duck legs with pickled spruce shoots and garnish with butter-fried parsley. Serve with the seared cabbage and reheated duck jus.

Photography by David Loftus

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