I seem destined not to be able to get free time in the kitchen at the moment. All very frustrating when we’ve just had it all refurbished and it’s such a lovely space to be in now.
Life continues to get in the way, and so all the cooking I’m doing is purely functional – I don’t have sufficient spare time, it seems, to have a play and to try out some new recipes. Other things simply continue to take priority.
So I find myself falling back on the kind of meals that I can cook without thinking about them, and which can either be made quickly, or be left on the hob or in the oven for hours without needing any attention.
One such meal is duck… which invariably gets put together with whatever I have in the store cupboard and fridge. Beans and pulses make good partners, and with the addition of some vegetable matter, it can all add up to make a tasty, limited-effort dinner.
Here’s an example I made the other day, for two people. The picture’s not pretty – hastily taken, and a last-minute decision, so not prettified for blogging! – but it was delicious, and the perfect sustenance for what was a rather chilly evening. I used:
2 duck legs
mild olive oil
1 can or so cannellini beans, drained
1 large onion
1 bunch spring greens, de-stalked and shredded
handful of lardons
1 bay leaf
about 300ml chicken stock
2 cloves garlic
seasoning, to taste
First, heat the oven to 170C. Lightly salt the duck legs, then fry in a large heavy-based pan, over a medium/high heat until golden brown all over – this should take about ten minutes. Remove from the pan, and put in a roasting tin. Cover the tin with foil, and put the duck in the oven for 1hr 30mins.
In the meantime, chop and dice the onion, carrots, and finely chop one of the garlic cloves. If you’ve got a stick of celery, use that in the same way, too. Sauté in a couple of tablespoons of the olive oil until the onions are translucent and they and the other vegetables have turned soft.
Add the lardons, and continue cooking for a few minutes. Then add the hot chicken stock, bay leaf, and beans, and leave to simmer gently for up to half an hour.
When the liquid has reduced but there is still some left, add the spring greens. Continue cooking until the greens have wilted. Season.
Finally, crush the remaining garlic clove, and chop finely. Add it to the beans. Have a taste of everything, and adjust the seasoning if need be. You might want to add a little squeeze of lemon to give it some zest.
Serve immediately with the roasted duck leg atop. If you have any wild garlic, make a pesto and use that instead of the final garlic clove for an extra seasonal flourish.