Chinese duck Recipes plum sauce
We planted a plum tree outside our house two years ago, and this year we have had our first crop. I often wish that the nation's streets could be planted with fruit trees, so that every autumn we could gather together picking apples, pears, plums and quince from the trees right outside our homes. I was so excited by our small harvest that I went into overdrive – and it was this Chinese roast duck with Victoria plum sauce that won the day. Then there were globe artichokes at the market, so I made one of the simplest, most delicious recipes I know – it has the added bonus of being a great excuse to eat a little bit more butter.
Chinese-style roast duck with plum sauce
The aromatic, warm flavours of Chinese spicing and the sweet-sour notes of the plum sauce are a perfect foil for the rich, gamey duck. I serve this with mash (adding celeriac, if I can get any) and rivers of gravy. Serves four.
2 tsp peppercorns
7.5cm cinnamon stick
3 star anise
1 tsp cloves
1 free-range duck, about 1.8kg
2 tbsp sea salt
5cm piece fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, bashed
For the plum sauce
4 tbsp soft brown sugar
½ tsp spice mix
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp red-wine vinegar
Warm the spices in a dry frying pan over a medium heat for a few minutes, just until they release their fragrance, then grind to a powder in a pestle and mortar or spice grinder. Rub the duck, inside and out, with a tablespoon of salt and enough spice mix to give it a good coating (save the rest for the plum sauce). Leave for a few hours in the fridge, or overnight.
Heat the oven to 200C/390F/gas mark 6. Roughly slice the ginger and put half of it inside the duck with the garlic. Roast the duck for 20 minutes, then turn down the heat to 170C/335F/gas mark 3 and take the duck out of the oven. Drain off any fat it has released into a heatproof pot, then return the bird to the oven and roast for another 70 minutes, intermittently draining off the fat (this will help prevent your oven filling with black smoke).
Meanwhile, throw the plums into a pan with three or four tablespoons of water, the sugar, spice mix, soy sauce, vinegar and the rest of the ginger. Season with salt, bring to a boil, then turn down the flame and simmer gently for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the plums have collapsed and the sauce has darkened and turned syrupy. Adjust for seasoning, then push the sauce through a sieve to get rid of the stones (much easier than destoning the plums first). When it's time to eat, gently warm the sauce again.
When the duck is cooked, turn off the oven and pop the duck on an ovenproof plate. Make a gravy in the pan with a tablespoon of the reserved duck fat, a generous tablespoon of plum sauce and half a glass each of red wine and water. Carve the duck, divide between four plates, pour over the plum sauce and surround with plenty of gravy.
Globe artichokes with burnt butterThomasina Miers' globe artichokes with burnt butter: 'I'm delighted that the health tsars have finally woken up to the joys of butter.' Photograph: Johanna Parkin for the Guardian. Food styling: Emily Jonzen
I am delighted that the health tsars have finally woken up to the joys of butter. Browning the butter solids to make beurre noir creates such a deliciously nutty flavour that it is good on almost anything, but it seems particularly suited to the slightly sweet, enigmatic flavour of artichokes, which are in season now. Ensure that you have enough of the butter for the hearts, and mop up any left with bread. Serves four.