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Duck with damson sauce - Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's

Duck with damson sauce - Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's

 Roast duck with damson sauce: A neat twist on the classic Chinese dish. Photograph: Colin Campbell for the Guardian
If you manage to glean only a handful of damsons, this is a terrific use for them. Serves five to six.


1 large (2.2-2.5kg) free-range duck
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
250g damsons
1 thumb-sized piece fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced
1 pinch dried chilli flakes
2 tbsp soy sauce
2-3 tsp redcurrant or crab apple jelly


Heat the oven to 220C/425F/gas mark 7. If the duck is tied up, untruss it and gently pull the legs apart, away from the body – this will help the heat get to the meat. Season the duck skin well with salt and pepper. Put the bird in a roasting tin and roast for about 20 minutes, so the fat starts to run. Baste the bird with any rendered fat or juices, then cover it tightly with foil. Return to the oven and reduce the temperature to 150C/300F/gas mark 2, and cook for two to three hours, until the meat is very tender and easily comes away from the bone.

Put the damsons in a small, ovenproof dish and roast in the oven for the last 30 minutes of the duck's cooking time, to soften them.

Tip up the bird, pour any fat or juices out of the cavity into the roasting tin, and transfer the duck to a warmed plate to rest. Carefully pour off most of the fat from the roasting tin (save it in the fridge for next time you roast potatoes), leaving the brown juices in the tin.

Set the tin over a low heat, add the ginger, garlic and chilli flakes, and cook, stirring, for two to three minutes. Add the soy sauce and four or five tablespoons of water, followed by the damsons, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for four to five minutes, until the fruit is tender and you can easily crush it with a wooden spoon. Now press this spicy damson compote/gravy through a sieve to remove the damson stones and skins, and the chunks of ginger and garlic. If the sauce is not thick enough for your liking, return it to a clean pan, bring to a boil and simmer for a minute or two to thicken. When it's the right consistency, whisk in the redcurrant jelly and taste – you may want to add more jelly, or another dash of soy.

To serve, take the meat from the duck – it should be forkably tender – and divide between warmed plates. Spoon the sauce over and around the meat, and serve. Noodles and wilted pak choi are a great accompaniment.

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