The tart Bramley apple sauce cuts the richness of the duck, and the braised cabbage complements the flavour not just of duck but also roast goose and pork with crackling. The recipe for Braised Red Cabbage serves 8–10 but keeps brilliantly in the fridge or freezer.
Brining the duck in advance of cooking can enhance the flavour considerably. The day before cooking brine the duck – mix 105g salt with 1.2 litres of water and pop the bird into the brine. Cover and leave overnight. You’ll need some stock to make a flavoursome gravy so use the giblets. To make the stock, put the neck, gizzard, heart and any other trimmings from the duck into a saucepan with the onion, carrot and bouquet garni. Cover with cold water and add the peppercorns but no salt. Bring slowly to the boil and simmer for 2–3 hours. This will make a delicious stock which will be the basis of the gravy.
Meanwhile, singe the duck if necessary and make the stuffing. Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas 4. To make the stuffing, melt the butter then add the onion and sweat over a gentle heat for 5–10 minutes until soft but not coloured, add the breadcrumbs and sage. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Unless you plan to cook the duck immediately, leave the stuffing to cool completely. Season the cavity of the duck with salt and freshly ground pepper and spoon in the cold stuffing. Truss the duck loosely. Roast in the oven for about 1 ½ hours.
For the braised red cabbage, remove any damaged outer leaves from the cabbage. Examine and clean it if necessary. Cut into quarters, remove the core and slice the cabbage finely across the grain. Put the vinegar, water, salt and sugar into a cast-iron casserole or stainless steel saucepan. Add the cabbage and bring it to the boil. Meanwhile, peel and core the apples and cut into quarters (no smaller). Lay them on top of the cabbage, cover and continue to cook gently for 30–50 minutes until the cabbage is tender. Do not overcook or the colour and flavour will be ruined. Season to taste and add more sugar if necessary.
To make the Bramley apple sauce, peel, quarter and core the apples, cut the pieces in two and put in a small stainless steel or cast-iron saucepan with the water and sugar. Cover and cook over a low heat. As soon as the apple has broken down, beat into a purée, stir and taste for sweetness.
When the duck is cooked remove to a serving dish and leave to rest while you make the gravy. De-grease the cooking juices (keep the precious duck fat for roast or sauté potatoes). Add the stock to the juices in the roasting pan, bring to the boil, taste and season if necessary. Strain the gravy into a sauceboat and serve with the duck alongside the braised red cabbage and Bramley apple sauce.
Recipe and photos are from Simply Delicious – The Classic Collection by Darina Allen, with photography by Peter Cassidy. Published by Kyle Books and available from all good book shops.
- 1 x 1.8kg free-range duck
For the Stock
- neck and giblets from the duck
- 1 onion, quartered
- 1 carrot, sliced
- bouquet garni made of parsley stalks, small celery stalk, sprig of thyme
- 2–3 peppercorns salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the Sage & Onion Stuffing
- 45g salted butter
- 75g onion, finely chopped
- 100g soft white breadcrumbs
- 1 tablespoon freshly chopped sage
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the Braised Red Cabbage
- 225g red cabbage (Red Drummond if possible)
- 225g cooking apples, such as Bramley Seedling
- ½ tablespoon wine vinegar
- 60ml water
- ½ level teaspoon salt
- 1 heaped tablespoon granulated sugar
For the Bramley Apple Sauce
- 450g Bramley Seedling cooking apples
- 1–2 dessertspoons water
- approx. 50g sugar depending on tartness of the apples