We love duck (if it is on the menu then my daughter will always order it) but I rarely cook it at home, however it is now becoming much more easily available and also a little less expensive. When we saw Rick Stein cook this recipe on television we all commented on how delicious it sounded. I tried very hard, but could not find the recipe anywhere online. I am not sure how I managed to find it, but was delighted to discover that the Yorkshire Foodie had made a version using chicken rather than duck. Having tried and enjoyed this chicken version I decided the original duck recipe would be perfect for the special meal I was planning for my mother’s birthday (to be followed by Cherry & Rosewater Pavlova Meringue Roulade).
The original recipe comes from Rick Stein’s Far Eastern Odyssey. For the chicken version I used meaty chicken thighs. I also squeezed fresh orange juice: one orange per person but it would be easier and probably just as good to use concentrated orange juice. I used less chilli than in the original recipe to give just a little heat. The meat should be, in Rick Stein’s words: ‘meltingly tender’. His total cooking time given for the duck pieces is 2hrs, which seems rather long: I was happy with the results I got from about 1½hrs in total. Obviously the chicken thighs cook much more quickly. The sauce should thicken naturally as it reduces, however it can be thickened using cornflour if necessary although this should not be a very thick sauce. Mix 1tsp-1tbsp cornflour with a little cold water, gradually add spoonfuls of the sauce into the cornflour/water mixture and then return this mixture to the remainder of the sauce inthe pan, stirring continuously until the mixture thickens very slightly. A little more cornflour can be added, in the same way, if it does not thicken: add more water if the sauce is too thick. Certainly rice is perfect as a side dish (I cooked Thai Jasmine, which is widely available). The chicken version was served with steamed broccoli but for the duck I wanted to serve a vegetable dish from the region. My research drew a blank so eventually I opted for a simple Chinese Style Stir Fry using a selection of vegetables: onion, peppers, courgette, garlic and ginger. (I also cooked a few chips on the side to keep a diner who was not keen on rice happy!) I like it when recipes are unusual, simple and delicious and this is all of these, plus it gets favourable compliments: what more does a cook want! Perhaps I will be cooking duck a little more often now.
Duck or Chicken Stewed in a Vietnamese Style Spiced Orange Sauce
4 Duck legs
8 Chicken Thighs or 4 chicken legs/breasts (meat can be skinned to reduce fat)
3-4 garlic cloves, crushed or finely chopped/grated
1″ piece of ginger, peeled & grated
4 Oranges, squeezed or 250ml Orange Juice from a carton
2 tbsps Thai Fish Sauce/Nam Pla
2 tsp sugar
2-3 Star Anise
½-1 small Red Chilli, finely chopped (remove seeds for less heat & a larger chilli for more)
1-2 sticks lemon grass, remove core and chop finely
2-3 Large Spring Onions, thickly sliced, for garnish
1. Heat a frying pan over a moderate heat and gently fry the pieces of meat in as little oil as possible for 3-5 minutes per side (depending on size of piece). Remove and put to one side.
2. Remove as much oil as possible from the pan: duck in particular is a fatty meat which would make the finished dish to greasy. Fat can be saved for another dish: duck fat, in particular, is popular for oven roasted potatoes.
3. Lower the heat and fry the ginger and garlic lightly for about one minute or until lightly golden, being careful they do not burn.
4. Add the orange juice, sugar, fish sauce, star anise, chilli and lemon grass. Season with black pepper. Stir well and gently bring the sauce to the boil.
5. Return the pieces of duck or chicken to the pan. Cover pan and simmer very gently for 35-40 minutes (for chicken thighs) 1¼-1½hrs (for duck or thicker chicken pieces) or until the meat is tender, removing the lid to allow the sauce to reduce a little about 10 minutes before serving. Turn the pieces of meat from time to time.
6. Cut the spring onion along the length of the white parts to give long strands (or alternatively they can be diagonally sliced). Add to the pan no more than 5-10 minutes before serving. The green parts of the onions should be cut in the same way and kept to one side for garnishing the finished dish.
7. To serve the meat should be placed on a warm serving plate and kept warm. Skim any excess fat from the sauce before finishing. If necessary, the sauce should be reduced by boiling to concentrate the flavour before it is poured over the top of the meat. If there is a large quantity of sauce then it can be lightly thickened with a little cornflour and water.
8. Scatter the reserved green spring onion pieces over the dish just before serving.