This recipe is from Gordon Ramsay’s book Gordon Ramsay’s Great British Pub Food, published in 2009, even though Amazon claims it’s 1855!
From Gordon Ramsay: “The great British Pub has played an important and unique role in British society, right from Roman times, through the Middle Ages and up to the present day. It is a role that has changed, adapted and evolved as society has dictated, but the pub has always maintained its focus as the place to go – to relax, to celebrate, to mourn, to talk, to drink and, increasingly, to eat.”
I know for a fact that some people go to the pub to NOT talk. I know this because I have a very American habit of talking to everybody near me and I’ve been warmed many times by my daughter (who lived in London for four years and is married to a Brit) that people in pubs want to be left alone. They go to relax after work or de-stress, and they don’t need a crazy woman asking “can pet your dog,” or “what are you drinking?”
Contrary do this daughter’s socially conscience concern, I have gotten into fabulous conversations in pubs – mostly with young people. When in St. Andrews once at a pub, one lad looked very sad, and as a Mum I just had to ask if he was okay. He was not. He and a friend had snuck away from school to road trip through Scotland, and they got everything stolen, including their car. They had to call home and tell the story to the parents. We bought their lunches.
I chose to make the potted duck recipe from this book because I love potted anything and rillettes, which are similar. Plus I could live off of hors d’oeuvres. Another British recipe, potted ham, was such a great discovery, I’ve made it more than once.
Gordon Ramsay adds: “Pistachios help to cut the richness of this tasty spread, as do the accompanying pickled onions and cornichons.”
I doubled the recipe so I had enough for the holidays, and they were a hit on Thanksgiving day.
2 duck legs, about 300g (10.5 ounces) each
2 large garlic cloves, peeled, chopped
Few thyme sprigs
Sea salt and black pepper
300g (10.5 ounces) duck fat, melted
60g (2 ounces) pistachios, toasted and roughly chopped
Plenty of sourdough bread slices, freshly toasted
Preheat the oven to 150 degrees C (300 degrees F).
Put the duck legs, skin side up, into a roasting tin in which they fit snugly and scatter over the garlic, thyme and seasoning. Pour over the duck fat to cover. Roast for 2 – 2 1/2 hours, until the meat is very tender and falls off the bone.
Cool slightly, then lift the duck legs onto a plate, reserving the fat. Shred or finely chop the meat, discarding the skin.
Place the meat in a bowl. Strain the fat through a fine sieve; set aside. Add the pistachios to the duck and toss to mix, moistening with a little duck fat and seasoning generously to taste.
Divide the mixture amount 4 – 6 small jars or ramekins. Press down with the back of a spoon and pour over a thin layer of duck fat to cover. Chill until set.
Take the potted duck out of the fridge 30-40 minutes before serving to soften it slightly, so it can be spread. It’s also smart to remove the fat when it’s chilled. It’s much more difficult when warm. I forgot this.
Serve with warm toast, pickled onions and cornichons.
The flavors of the potted duck are really fabulous, but I didn’t love the texture. A couple of days after I made it, I removed the fat layer on top, and placed the duck into my food processor. I ground the meat just enough to make a spreadable mixture, not to the point of baby food. I preferred that texture over hand-chopped.