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Barbecued duck with salad leaves nuts in a blue bowl
July 2022
Reading time 2 Minutes
Duck breasts have a considerable layer of fat under the skin, which means they have a tendency to cause the fire to flare up if you cook over too direct a heat. In this recipe the honey in the marinade also makes things prone to catching. If you get a big old flare-up the simplest thing to do is remove the food to a plate, allow the fire to calm down - perhaps brushing the grill bars clean with a wire brush - before carrying on.
  • 4 duck breasts
  • 1 cinnamon stick, crumbled
  • 3 star anise
  • 1–2 tsp chipotle chilli flakes
  • 1 tbsp flaked sea salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 pink or red grapefruit
  • 2 x 80g bags of watercress
  • 75g pecans, toasted and roughly chopped
  • a good handful of coriander, chopped
  • For the pickled onions
  • 1 large red onion, thinly sliced
  • ½ tsp flaked salt
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • For the dressing
  • juice from the grapefruit
  • 1 tbsp English mustard
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • flaked sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cut slashes at two centimetre intervals through the skin of the duck and deep into the meat. Add to a dish in a snug, single layer.

Toast the crumbled cinnamon, star anise and chilli flakes in a small frying pan for a few minutes over a medium heat, then tip into a spice mill and grind to a powder. You can also use a pestle and mortar. Transfer to a small bowl and stir through the salt, olive oil and honey to make a paste. Rub this into the duck breasts, pushing deep into the slashes for maximum flavour. Cover and slide into the fridge to marinate, ideally for 24 hours.

Put the onion and salt in a bowl. Massage a little, then stir through the balsamic vinegar. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, use a small sharp knife to slice off the top and bottom of the grapefruit, then pare away the skin, removing as much white pith as you can. Set a sieve over a bowl and segment the grapefruit over it – slicing either side of the membrane to release each segment into the sieve and allowing the juice to fall through into the bowl. Squeeze the leftover membranes over the sieve to extract as much juice as possible. Set the segments aside. Whisk the mustard and garlic through the juice then drizzle in the oil, whisking to form a dressing. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Fire up your barbecue for direct and indirect grilling. Sear the duck breasts just to the side of the fire, turning them almost constantly for maximum Maillard reactions. They will flame up a little as the fat renders – just keep them moving. Once browned and crispy, slide them away from the heat and shut the lid. Leave it to finish cooking indirectly – taking the internal temperature to 52C for rare, 60C for medium, or 74C for well done.

Assemble the salad. Toss the watercress, grapefruit segments and dressing together on a platter. Sprinkle over the pecans, coriander and pickled onions. Carve the duck into thick slices across the grain and rest on top of the salad.

Extracted from The Ultimate Guide to Barbecuing Meat by Genevieve Taylor (Quadrille) Photography: Jason Ingram

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