Duck Leg Bonbons


New Years Eve has always been a big event in Emily’s parents house and for years we have been going there to celebrate the occasion with good food, a large extended family and spectacular views from Idle Moor towards the lights and fireworks of Leeds.

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This year was an extra special occasion with over 30 people making the journey to attend. So, rather than a sit down dinner, her mother and I concocted a buffet. She was to handle the main courses and I the nibbles and starters.

I prepared a selection of go to favourites and new experiments which included pork belly rillettes and pickled beetroot, oatcakes of home-smoked trout, a platter of Bounissimo salumi, pears and toasted nuts, catalan spinach and goats cheese filo parcels and finally a new recipe, duck bonbons.

Inspired by the wide-eyed hopefuls from the latest edition of BBC 2’s Masterchef: ‘The Professionals’ who endeavour to turn anything and everything into bonbon form before delicately placing them amongst other wonderful concoctions of gels, pickles, crisps etc… I decided to make a rich, unctuous and crispy canapé.

INGREDIENTS (makes 24)

  • 6 duck legs (unwrapped and left to come to room temp)
  • 2 tablespoons of plum vinegar
  • 4 cups of breadcrumbs, for coating
  • 3 table spoons of flour, for dusting
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups of baked potato, mashed with a little butter
  • veg oil, for frying
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 1 small bunch of thyme
  • sea salt and fresh pepper
  • olive oil

Preheat your oven to 170°c

  1. Arrange the duck legs in a deep roasting tin. Split up the head of garlic and arrange the cloves, along with the thyme, around the duck. Drizzle the mixture with olive oil before seasoning generously with salt and pepper. Massage this in by hand, making sure the joints take up as much seasoning as possible.
  2. Roast the duck uncovered in the oven for 90 minutes, checking, turning and basting from time to time to ensure an event cooking. You are looking to get a crispy skin but to keep the flesh moist and tender – know your oven, if the edges of the flesh seem to be crisping also, cover with foil for the remainder of the cooking time.
  3. Once cool enough to handle, remove the legs from the tray. Remove the skin of each leg and return it to the roasting tray. Place this back into the oven and raise the heat to 190°c until the skin is as crisp as possible before removing.
  4. Return to the duck legs. Using a small paring knife strip the meat away from the bones and shred finely between two forks. Save the bones for a future stock.
  5. Once the crispy skin has cooled, chop or blend until it is the consistency of breadcrumbs and then add it to the shredded duck meat along with the vinegar and 1 cup of potato. Beat the mixture together or knead with your hands until well combined with the texture of moist sausagemeat. If it feels too loose, add more potato. If too dry, add some duck fat from the roasting tin.
  6. Using a teaspoon full of mix, roll a ball of duck between your palms until smooth and crack free. Remove any un crisp skin, tough meat or sinew at this stage. Once well combined, arrange on a plate and repeat with the rest of the mixture.
  7. Next to your plate of duck balls, prepare a plate of plain flour for dusting, bowl of beaten egg for dipping and finally a shallow bowl or plate of breadcrumbs for coating. Flour, egg and breadcrumb each ball of duck until you have a complete plate of bonbons ready for frying.
  8. Preheat your fryer or saucepan of oil to 180°c. Once ready, fry off batches of 4-6 balls at a time for 1.5 minutes or until a deep golden brown. Transfer to drain on kitchen paper and repeat with the rest of your batch. Serve hot.

I served mine with a side dip of spicy sriracha chilli sauce, available from good supermarkets and asian grocers.


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