This recipe echoes the cooking of Catalonia where nuts and fruit are often added to casseroles and stews. In this region of Spain, chocolate is also a common addition.
2 tablespoons oil
1 × 2 kg (4 lb 8 oz) duck, jointed into 8
1 small carrot, cut into chunks
1 onion, cut into chunks
2 bay leaves
1 sprig thyme
1 sprig parsley
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon sweet, smoked paprika
pinch ground cloves
60 g (2 1/4 oz) whole blanched almonds
8 shallots (scallions), peeled
8 baby carrots, trimmed
2 garlic cloves, peeled and cut into slivers
4 tablespoons rich cream sherry
1 cinnamon stick
4 firm ripe pears, halved and cored
25 g (1 oz) dark bittersweet chocolate, grated
1. Make the stock the day before using the wings and neck of the duck. heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large saucepan and, when hot, add the duck wings and neck and the chunks of carrot and onion. Brown over a medium heat for 15-20 minutes, stirring now and then.
2. Cover with 1.2 litres (5 cups) of cold water and add the bay leaves, thyme, parsley and peppercorns. Bring the liquid to the boil, then reduce to low. Cover and simmer very gently for 2 hours. Drain, discard the solids and leave to cool. Refrigerate overnight. the next day, lift off any fat that has set on the top of the stock. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4).
3. In a small bowl, mix the nutmeg, smoked paprika and cloves together with a little salt and pepper. Dust the raw duck pieces with the spice mixture. heat the remaining oil in a flameproof casserole dish and, when hot, add half of the duck pieces. Brown well on both sides, then transfer to a large flameproof casserole dish. Repeat with the remaining duck.
4. Put the almonds on a baking tray and bake in the preheated oven for 5-7 minutes or until deeply golden. Set aside to cool.
5. Leaving a teaspoon of fat in the casserole, drain off the excess. Add the shallots and carrots to the dish and cook for 3-4 minutes or until lightly browned. Stir in the garlic and cook for a further 2 minutes. Pour in the sherry and bubble for a minute or so to deglaze the casserole. Pour in the stock and return the duck to the casserole with the cinnamon stick.
6. Bring to the boil. Cover and bake for 1 hour 10 minutes, turning halfway through. Put the pears on top of the duck and bake for a further 20 minutes. Meanwhile, tip the almonds into a food processor and blend until finely ground, then tip into a bowl. Add the chocolate and mix together.
7. When the duck is cooked, lift the pieces and the pears out of the liquid using a slotted spoon and transfer to a serving dish with the carrots, shallots and cinnamon stick. Keep warm.
8. Put the casserole over A direct heat and bring the liquid to the boil. Boil for 7-10 minutes or until the liquid has reduced its volume by half. Add 3 tablespoons of the hot liquid to the ground almonds and chocolate and stir to combine. Whisk the paste into the rest of the sauce to thicken. Season to taste, pour over the duck and serve.