Freekeh-stuffed duck with saffron, olives and preserved lemon

Freekeh-stuffed duck with saffron, olives and preserved lemon

Real Food by Mike
Alan Benson

Pot-roasting is a good way to cook a duck. It’s gentle enough to keep it moist, which means you can cook it as a whole bird, breast and legs together. Roasting a duck conventionally quite often means the breast is overcooked by the time the legs are done, so this is the perfect solution. Although freekeh is a green wheat, don’t be scared. It’s a lovely grain that is good for you and it has a nice waxy texture. If you can’t find freekeh, use barley or quinoa.


Quantity Ingredient
2 pinches saffron threads
2 pinches sea salt
1 red onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
90ml extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve
300g freekeh
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon sumac
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 duck (about 1.9 kg)
200g mixed olives, such as wild and green
rocket, to serve


  1. Preheat the oven to 100°C.
  2. Place the saffron in a bowl with 125 ml (1/2 cup) warm water and half the sea salt and set aside to infuse for 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, sauté the onion and garlic in 60 ml (1/4 cup) of the olive oil with the remaining sea salt over medium heat until tender and translucent, 5–6 minutes. Add the freekeh and spices and stir to toast for 1 minute. Remove from the heat, add the lemon juice, season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper and set aside to cool.
  4. Stuff the freekeh mixture into the duck cavity and leave to stand for about 30 minutes.
  5. Heat the remaining oil in a large flameproof casserole dish or roasting tin over medium–high heat and cook the duck, breast side down, until well browned, 4–5 minutes per breast. Turn the duck onto its back and pour the saffron and its liquid over the breasts. Add the olives to the pan, cover with a lid or aluminium foil and transfer to the oven to braise until the duck is very tender, 2 1/2 hours.
  6. When the duck is cooked, rest it for 15 minutes, then drain the pan juices into a jug to use as a gravy, and reserve the olives separately.
  7. Carve the duck and serve it with the olives and stuffing spooned out onto the plate. When everyone is nearly finished, serve the rocket to help mop up the juices and cleanse the palate.

Medicinal Benefit

  • Duck is high in omega-6 fatty acid (linoleic acid), which can help stimulate skin and hair growth and maintain bone health. Freekeh is high in protein and also rich in fibre, and foods like this help you feel full for longer. Freekeh also has good quantities of calcium (to build and protect bones), zinc (for the immune system, taste and smell) and iron (for producing haemoglobin in red blood cells, to help transport oxygen throughout the body).
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