salt duck with Cabernet beurre blanc
friend Bobby Freeman, a leading authority on Welsh food, taught me
many years ago how to make this unusual but wondrously delicious dish.
You simply bury a duck in salt and leave it for three days, then rinse
it off and boil gently for 2-3 hours. The shredded duck meat emerges
incredibly succulent and tender yet with the deep, slightly salty
flavour of a French confit. Bobby might serve the salt duck
with a sauce made from laver and orange, but I like it served tepid
with a rich yet slightly sharp butter sauce.
wrote about this and many other delicious Welsh foods in her now classic
work First Catch Your Peacock while this recipe (but not the
sauce) first appeared in our book The
Taste of Britain, published by Webb & Bower (1985).
duck, about 1 1/2-2 kg
kg sea salt
the Cabernet beurre blanc
peeled and finely chopped
red wine vinegar
g. unsalted butter, cut into cubes and at room temperature
Cabernet Sauvignon wine
from an orange
and freshly ground black pepper
rocket or mâche leaves dressed with olive oil and sherry vinegar
the duck clean. Add a bed of the salt to a large container, lay the
duck on the salt, then cover completely with the remaining salt, rubbing
in well. Leave in a cool place for 3 days, rubbing in the salt well
from time to time.
from the salt and rinse the duck well. Place in a large stockpot together
with the chopped onion and carrots. Bring gently to the boil, and
skim off the grey scum that rises to the surface. Cook at the barest
simmer for 2-3 hours or until the duck is tender and virtually falling
off the bones. Defat and reserve the cooking liquid to make soup (I
like to make pasta e fagioli with this; surprisingly, it is
not too salty). Remove the duck when cool enough to handle and skin
and bone, shredding the meat with a fork.
the Cabernet beurre blanc, place the finely chopped shallots
in a bain mairie together with the vinegar, and cook slowly for about
an hour until the shallots are very soft. Meanwhile, add the bottle
of wine to a saucepan and reduce to 1/3. Add the reduced wine and
the freshly grated orange zest to the shallot and vinegar mixture
and, still over the simmering bain mairie, beat in the unsalted butter,
whisking all the time to make a creamy emulsion. Season with salt
place a bit of dressed salad on one side of a plate, then spoon on
some of the Cabernet sauce. Lay some of the shredded salt duck on
the sauce, and top with a bit more.
suggestion: The deeply flavoured duck combine with the rich yet
slightly sharp wine and butter sauce demands a full, fruity but not
overly tannic Cabernet, preferably from Napa (try Stag's Leap) or
Chile (Viña Carmen is a top example).