Tag Archives: star anise

Wallpaper* Duck

This is the duck just before it goes into the oven.

It will come as either a great disappointment or a huge relief to discover that this recipe does not in fact contain any wallpaper. Duck yes, Sanderson print or Anaglypta no. The name comes from the fact that I have based this on one which appeared in the launch issue of Wallpaper* Magazine way back in 1996.

When Tyler Brûlé’s original style bible first hit the newsstands I was one of the salivating fashionistas desperately drooling over the dreamily hip lifestyle portrayed within its pages. The editor’s eye for a handsome male model [first time I’d seen two pretty boys cavorting in an expensive hotel pool for a mainstream magazine travel piece!] certainly didn’t hurt.

Fifteen years on it’s interesting to see what has and hasn’t changed in the world of über-cool lifestyle publishing. In the resources section of the launch issue not a single supplier lists a ‘website’, and the London phone numbers begin with either 0171 or 0181 [not many of the latter though!]. But you could take just about any of the pieces devoted to beautiful people wearing beautiful clothes and surrounded by beautiful stuff and drop them into a magazine tomorrow and I swear no-one would bat a perfectly mascara-ed eyelid.

One thing that has certainly endured through the years for me though is my somewhat re-calibrated version of this dish. Perhaps it’s just a sign of the ever increasing speed with which the fashion wheel spins that when I make this roughly two or three times a year it now probably counts as a ‘revival’! The original came from a piece about how we trendy young things were reclaiming and re-inventing Sunday lunch, and even came with a playlist. Whatever day you choose to serve it, just don’t forget to be ravishingly beautiful when you do…

For two, though there may be some leftover sauce to play with

  • 2 duck legs
  • 1 tbsp groundnut oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3cm ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 150ml light chicken stock
  • 200ml red wine
  • 50ml Japanese soy sauce
  • Chinese five spice powder
  • 2 soupspoons runny honey
  • 2 whole star anise

Preheat your oven to 180˚C. In a heavy lidded casserole on a highish heat brown the duck legs all over and season them with salt and pepper as you go, then remove them from the pot and the pot from the heat, and pour off all but a scant tablespoonful of the fat which will have been rendered from the duck [excess duck fat can be saved and used later for roast potatoes]. Pop this back onto a gentle heat and sauté the garlic and ginger until softened but not coloured. Add all the liquids and simmer for five minutes.

Smear the browned duck legs with the five spice powder and return them to the pan. The liquid should come to no higher than halfway up the legs, and if scaling up this recipe keep the proportions the same but only add enough liquor to reach the same height in your pan. Drizzle a soupspoon of honey over each leg and top it with a star anise. Cover and give this an hour and fifteen minutes in the oven.

Whack the oven up to 230˚C, remove the duck from the sauce and place them back in the oven [on a tray] to crisp up the skin a little. Meanwhile strain the sauce into a pan and reduce gently. You can thicken this with cornflour, or glaze and emulsify with a little chilled butter if you like.

I like to serve this with moulded rings of twice-baked potato [coming soon!] and simply steamed pack-choi, the irony bitterness of the greens being a great foil for the very rich sauce. But this week it was asparagus as I’m eating it just about every day before the season ends.

Wallpaper duck plated up with twice baked potatoes and asparagus.

There are uses for any leftover sauce and options with the potato which we will return to at a later stage…

Dandelion and Burdock Ham

A holding picture of a Christmas ham until I can take my own.

I recently published a version of this recipe in My St Margarets Magazine and as the online version is not yet available am more than happy to share it here. PS – the picture above is not my own ham as the tester versions were wolfed down before I could I lay hands on my camera. Once the next ham is out of the oven I will fend off the ravening hordes for long enough to take a couple of quick snaps. Promise.

By now your Christmas menu is undoubtedly decided, but what about Boxing Day, the very feast of Stephen? Well one of my own traditions for 26th December is to pre-prepare a ham to provide ample grazing opportunities whilst leaving me with plenty of time to try on my new slippers [hint?] and gaze out at the snow – all deep and crisp and even.

Nigella famously does it with cola, so why not try this version with an even more aromatically herbal fizzy pop? This can be made up to a week in advance and will happily simmer away to itself whilst you get on with something else like, oh, wrapping my new slippers [enough hints already?].

Take a 2.75kg boneless mild cure piece of gammon and place in a pan along with 250ml red wine, 1 litre dandelion and burdock, 1 large onion roughly chopped, 1 halved head of fennel, 2 cloves of garlic, 2 star anise, 6 cloves, 1 tablespoon caraway seeds and 1 of black peppercorns. Top up with water if necessary to cover the ham and simmer for 3 hours.

When the ham has cooked and cooled carefully remove the skin, make a diamond pattern of crossed lines in the fat and stud with cloves at the centre of each diamond. In a pan melt 50g membrillo and a tablespoon of redcurrant jelly with 3 tablespoons dry cider, 1 teaspoon wine vinegar and a pinch of smoked paprika. Pour over the ham and glaze in a 230˚C oven for around 15 minutes, brushing and basting from time to time with the glaze. Allow to cool, wrap, and refrigerate until needed.

After watching a television programme last night which made a picture perfect Christmas look sickeningly easy I think I might even spear halved glacé cherries with the cloves before I impale the ham – watch this space to see how that turns out…

Spicy Italian Sausage Pasta

At one of my local farmers’ markets [actually the one that’s a bit more frou-frou than farmer] there is an occasional visitor, a South African sausage maker, who makes the most luscious Luganega sausages. Luganega and its seasonings, like most things Italian including the language, vary from region to region, from town to town, and it’s also known as salsiccia a metro as it is traditionally sold by the metre. This chap’s version is lightly spiced with chilli and bursting with fennelly flavour. I visit this particular market about every other week, and when my man is there he doesn’t always have the Luganega, so I probably get my hands on them once every eight weeks or so, by which time I’m always more than ready for another bowlful of this.

For two:

  • 3 Luganega [about 230g, or around 36cm if you’re buying in Italy!]
  • 300g fresh tomatoes
  • 170ml dry vermouth [perhaps here it should be Italian, but there’s normally French in my kitchen]
  • I medium onion, chopped
  • 2 or 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 dried chilli, flaked
  • 1 star anise
  • 150ml single cream [or double if you prefer]
  • 200g pasta, penne work well here but I’ll use whatever’s in the cupboard
  • Grated Parmigiano Reggiano to serve

Sautee the onion in a little olive oil until softened and add the flaked chilli and crushed garlic. You can vary the quantity of chilli and use or discard the seeds depending on your need for heat. Skin the sausages and crumble their contents into the pan, stirring and browning the meat. Roughly chop the tomatoes [slice cherry tomatoes in half] and add to the pan. This is a rustic affair so there’s no need to bother with skinning and seeding here. Sprinkle in a small pinch of sugar, some salt and pepper and add the vermouth. After a brief bubbling boil turn down to a low simmer, cover and cook for 15 to 20 minutes. Add the cream, check and adjust the seasoning. You will of course have set your pasta cooking at the appropriate point during this process so that by now it’s just al dente – as all brands vary I’m not going to attempt to give you more advice than you’ll find on the side of the packet. Use a little of the pasta water to thin the sauce if it seems too thick. For best results add your pasta to the sauce and give them a minute together in the pan on a low heat to get to know one another better before their dinner table debut, where you can make them feel welcome with a confetti of parmesan.

When I first made this there was another stall at the same market selling a wonderful fennel pesto, but they’ve since disappeared. If you can lay your hands on some add a couple of spoonfuls along with the tomatoes and maybe leave out the star anise.