Duck lacquered with honey and spices, dates and preserved lemon relish

Duck lacquered with honey and spices, dates and preserved lemon relish

William Meppem

There are not as many varieties of duck available to Australian cooks as there are in Europe, but the ones we have are improving all the time. At the restaurant we like to cook our ducks on the rotisserie before each service, then they are well rested before portioning. When ordered, they are pot-roasted until crisp and caramelised with this delicious lacquer.


Quantity Ingredient
300g Celeriac purée
1 quantity Cracked wheat pilaf
4 200 g large duck breasts, preferably thirlmere or muscovy
50ml olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 1 1/2 cm slices poached quince quarters

Tagine-flavoured fruits

Quantity Ingredient
6 cardamom pods, smashed
2 cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1 lemon, zested and juiced
pinch saffron threads
1 tablespoon rosewater
500ml Stock syrup
4 pitted prunes
4 fresh or dried apricot halves

Honey and spice lacquer

Quantity Ingredient
250ml red wine vinegar
250ml clear honey
4 tablespoons mustard seeds
3 tablespoons coriander seeds
3 tablespoons white peppercorns
3 tablespoons soft green peppercorns, coarsely chopped
2 lemons, juiced

Duck sauce

Quantity Ingredient
100ml olive oil
250g duck bones or chicken wings, chopped into small pieces
salt and freshly ground black pepper
250ml red wine vinegar
4 cinnamon sticks
4 star anise
4 cloves
1 litre duck
or Chicken stock
250ml Veal jus
1 lemon, juiced
salt, to taste
50g butter

Dates and preserved lemon relish

Quantity Ingredient
200g pitted medjool dates
1 preserved moroccan lemon, quartered, flesh scooped out, and pith and rind evenly chopped
750ml Chicken stock


  1. To make the tagine-flavoured fruits, ideally marinate the fruit a day before you wish to serve them. Combine the spices and flavourings with the stock syrup in a large saucepan. Bring to the boil over a medium heat, remove from the heat then pour the syrup onto the fruit. Leave to cool in the syrup to marinate and soften the fruit. When cold, refrigerate overnight, for at least 6–8 hours.
  2. To make the lacquer, boil the vinegar and honey together over a medium heat until reduced by half and a caramel consistency. Dry-roast the mustard seeds, coriander seeds and white peppercorns in a frying pan, then grind in a spice grinder until reasonably fine but still with texture. Add to the caramel with the chopped green peppercorns and lemon juice. Mix and reserve until required.
  3. Make the celeriac purée and the cracked wheat pilaf. Preheat oven to 240°C.
  4. To make the sauce, heat the olive oil in an ovenproof frying pan over a high heat. Fry the duck bones until they begin to colour, then lightly season and place in the oven to roast for 10 minutes. Turn occasionally until the bones are well roasted and evenly coloured. Drain off any excess oil then put the bones in a large saucepan. Add 3 tablespoons of the honey and spice lacquer and heat over a medium heat until liquid. Then deglaze with the vinegar. Boil until reduced to a rich syrup, add the whole spices and the chicken stock and veal jus, and simmer over a low heat for 1 hour until it becomes a light sauce. Season with lemon juice and salt, whisk in the butter and, when the butter is melted, pass through a sieve. Cover and set aside until required.
  5. Make the relish while the sauce is reducing. Combine the dates and preserved lemon rind in a mediumsized saucepan. Cover with chicken stock and simmer over a low heat for 30 minutes until the stock has reduced and the dates and lemon have softened. Put in a food processor and liquidise to a smooth purée. Pass through a sieve and set aside to cool.
  6. With a sharp knife, score the skin of the duck breasts in close, neat criss-cross patterns, but not too deeply. Brush with olive oil. Heat an ovenproof frying pan and place the duck breasts skin-side down. Cook over a high heat for a few minutes until brown. Turn the breasts over and seal the other side, removing any excess fat that appears. Season all over and turn the breasts back on their skin. Put the pan in the oven and roast for 4 minutes. The breasts should be served pink and juicy. Remove from the oven and rest the pan in a warm place.
  7. Gently reheat the tagine fruits and poached quince slices in the duck sauce. Heat the honey lacquer in a wide saucepan over a medium heat until it begins to reduce, thicken and bubble. Put the warm pink duck breasts in the lacquer, crispy skin facing you. Spoon over the lacquer as it boils for a minute or so, until the duck is well glazed.
  8. To serve, put a 7 cm diameter biscuit cutter in the middle of a serving plate and fill it with 3 tablespoons of cracked wheat pilaf. Press down firmly, so the pilaf will hold its shape, then remove the cutter. Arrange a spoonful of celeriac purée above the pilaf, then the tagine fruits and quince, followed by a neat spoonful of the date and preserved lemon relish. Carefully arrange a portion of the lacquered duck breast on top of the pilaf and surround with duck sauce.
high end
fine dining
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