Duck three ways with roasted pears, shallots, wilted chard and a red wine reduction

Preparing confit duck takes time, but the result is meltingly tender duck. Served here with chard, sour sweet pear and shallots and a rich wine and beef sauce.


  • 4 duck legs, separated into drumstick and thighs
  • 15g/½oz table salt per kilo of duck legs
  • 2-3 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only
  • 300g/10½oz duck fat
  • 5 tbsp roughly chopped flatleaf parsley
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon sticks
  • ½ tsp black peppercorns
  • 4 cloves
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • 4 duck breasts, skin scored
  • knob of butter, for frying
For the sauce
  • 110ml/3½fl oz red wine
  • 250ml/9fl oz beef stock
  • 50g/1¾oz butter
For the roasted pears and shallots
  • 100g/3½oz unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 shallots, whole
  • 1 pear, cut into wedges
  • 1 head chard, sliced

Preparation method

  1. For the duck, weigh the duck legs and thighs and place them on a sheet of clingfilm. Sprinkle them with 15g/½oz of salt per kilo and the thyme. Wrap in clingfilm and place in the fridge overnight.

  2. The next day, heat a heavy saucepan until warm and add the duck legs and duck thighs and enough duck fat to cover the meat totally.

  3. Bring the fat to a gentle simmer and cook for about 2½ hours, or until very tender. Carefully remove the legs from the fat and place on a roasting tray, draining off and reserving any excess fat.

  4. Remove the skin from the duck legs and set aside.

  5. Remove the skin, bone and tendons from the thigh and discard. Place the thigh meat into a bowl and mash with a fork. Gradually add about half of the duck fat. Add the chopped parsley and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

  6. Lay a piece of clingfilm on a board and place the duck mix in a thick line, arrange into a sausage shape and roll up the clingfilm like a Christmas cracker. Twist the ends and place in the fridge for at least two hours.

  7. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.

  8. Place the spices in a dry frying pan and heat until the spices start to smell and pop in the pan.

  9. Place in a spice grinder and grind until a powder is formed. Sprinkle the duck breast with the spice powder.

  10. Heat a large ovenproof frying pan until medium-hot, then add the duck breast, skin-side down and cook over a gentle heat for 4-5 minutes, or until the fat has rendered out of the breast. You may need to do the breasts in batches if the pan isn’t large enough.

  11. Turn the heat up and crisp for one minute, before turning over and placing in the oven for 6-8 minutes.

  12. Remove from the oven and leave to rest, covered and in a warm place, for five minutes.

  13. In the meantime take the duck mix out of the fridge and slice.

  14. Heat a large frying pan and add the butter, once hot add the slices of duck and the reserved confit legs and cook both sides until golden-brown.

  15. For the sauce, heat a saucepan, add the red wine and cook until the volume of liquid has reduced by half, then add the beef stock and return to the boil.

  16. Reduce the quantity of liquid by half again, then whisk in the butter and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Keep warm.

  17. For the roasted pears and shallots, preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7.

  18. Heat half the butter and all the oil in a clean, small, ovenproof frying pan. Add the shallots and pears, stir well, then transfer to the oven and roast for 15 minutes, or until cooked and tender.

  19. The other half of the butter add to a separate pan and add the chard add a little water and cook until wilted.

  20. To serve, place the wilted chard on the plates, carve the duck breast into slices on the diagonal and place on the chard. Place a roasted drumstick on the plate alongside along with the discs of duck. Pile the roasted pears and shallots next to the duck and drizzle with the red wine sauce.

James Martin recipes from Saturday Kitchen

Overnight preparation time

Over 2 hours cooking time

Serves 4

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