If you have a busy life (or even if you don’t) you will probably know the value of one-pot cooking. I am a huge fan of bunging everything in the same pan and letting the flavours all have a party in the oven whilst I do something else with my time, perhaps watch the afternoon episode of Desperate Housewives for example, and then having a lovingly prepared steaming dish of dinner on the table ready for when Will gets home. I probably cook this way two or three times a week, my current favourite being an Italian chicken stew made with rosemary, balsamic and pearl barley (I promise to share this recipe soon!).
Whenever I cook a one pot dish I always turn to my favoured casserole – a lovely cast-iron shallow Le Creuset version in Almond. It’s a brilliantly non-stick dish that is always clean after a rinse in the dishwasher, no matter how many burnt splatters I get on it.
We are big fans of the classic french cookware brand Le Creuset in this house. Since we bought our first home together five years ago I’ve become more and more into cooking and the economy of buying solid, hardworking and reliable cooking equipment has been clear. Which is what I tell myself every time I salivate over their range at John Lewis.
When I first found out we were moving to the countryside the first thing I went out and bought myself was a cream Le Creuset teapot, and the first piece of kitchen equipment my mum ever bought me was their classic casserole in the signature burnt orange (I think the official term for this colour is ‘volcanic’. Since then I’ve managed to pick up larger casseroles, a griddle pan, saucepans, frying pans and cookware. I can’t get enough.
Le Creuset recently emailed me to tell me they had a range of warming winter one-pot recipes they’d created for their cookware, and I was delighted to try one of them out. I let them choose which one they sent me – a Chinese-inspired braised orange duck dish. This is not a dish I’d choose to cook normally so I was excited to try something new.
This recipe serves four and I halved the quantities (apart from some veg) for Will and myself, and opted to use my oven-safe Le Creuset saucepan over the much larger casserole. Following the instructions to the letter, the recipe turned out wonderfully: the duck fell off the bone as I lifted it from the pan and was lightly flavoured from the orange, but not overpoweringly so. The cooking time was three and a half hours so it was the perfect dish to cook while feeding Elfie dinner, knowing it’d be ready for us a little while later.
I served the duck legs with (overcooked, oops) rice and pak choi sauteed off with sesame oil, butter and garlic. It was divine.
- 4 duck legs (approximately 250g)
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (I used sesame oil as it's Will's favourite)
- 4 spring onions, trimmed and chopped roughly
- 4 shallots, quartered
- 2 medium carrots, cut into finger sized pieces
- pared zest 1 large orange
- 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
- 4 tablespoons orange juice (I freshly squeezed mine as I had the oranges)
- 1 level teaspoon Chinese five–spice powder
- 3 star anise
- 50g raisins
- 1 level teaspoon cornflour
- 2 tablespoons Bonne Maman Bitter Orange Marmalade (I used a Co-Op branded marmalade as that was the only one available)
- freshly ground black pepper
- Pre-heat the oven to 140 degrees C, fan 120. Trim the duck legs of excess flaps of skin and fat or, if preferred, remove the skin completely. Put all the pieces into the casserole, cover with boiling water and on the hob bring to a gentle boil. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Drain well, discarding the cooking liquid. Dry the duck on kitchen paper towels.
- Rinse and dry the casserole.
- In the casserole heat the oil over a medium heat. Add two of the duck legs and brown evenly on both sides. Remove these with a slotted spoon and brown the remaining two legs. Lift out.
- Add all the vegetables to the hot oil and fry, stirring for 2 – 3 minutes. Return the duck pieces to the pot together with the orange zest, soy sauce, orange juice, five–spice powder, star anise and the raisins. Add 125ml water and some freshly ground black pepper. (No salt, the soy sauce will bring sufficient salt to the recipe).
- Place on the lid and cook in the oven for 3 hours.
- Remove the casserole from the oven. Blend the cornflour with a little cold water and stir this, together with the marmalade, into the ingredients. Return to the oven for a further 30 minutes to allow sauce to thicken.
- Remove the pieces of orange zest and star anise before serving.
- This dish may be served with small oven roasted potatoes or boiled rice.