How I love this time of year: summer beckons, Christmas is just around the corner and chefs of every persuasion can start to get creative with the first delicious mangoes of the season. This recipe, one of my favourites, makes sublimely good use of them. It also requires you to be patient: start marinating the duck 24 hours before you need it.
2 free-range or organic whole ducks
1 litre (4 cups) warmed duck fat
1½ tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
2 mangoes, cheeks removed and peeled
1 tbsp aged balsamic vinegar
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the marinade
8 small eschalots (French shallots), sliced
8 garlic cloves, sliced
2 large handfuls flat-leaf parsley
1 small handful thyme leaves
1 small handful rosemary leaves
125g fine sea salt
60g white peppercorns
1. To make the marinade, pound all of the ingredients together in a mortar with a pestle, or process in a food processor, to make a coarse paste.
2. To prepare the ducks – working with one at a time – remove the neck, wishbone, wing tips and discard. Halve the ducks lengthways, using kitchen scissors to cut down both sides of the backbone. Discard the backbone. Rub the marinade into the skin and meat and refrigerate for 24 hours.
3. The next day, remove the excess marinade from the duck halves and discard. Place the halves in a saucepan that's large enough to accommodate them snugly. Cover with the duck fat and place over a low heat. Attach a thermometer to the side of the pan: you're aiming for 70C. Cover with a lid and cook for 6 hours. Alternatively, cook in a covered casserole pot in a low oven.
4. Preheat the oven to 180C fan-forced (200C conventional).
5. Heat the oil in an ovenproof frying pan that can fit the duck breasts and legs. Add the duck pieces, skin-side down, then roast in the oven for 10 minutes.
6. Turn the pieces over, add the mango cheeks and return to the oven for a further 6 minutes.
7. Remove from the oven and place the duck pieces on a chopping board. Cut the legs in half at the joint where the thigh and leg meet. Place on a serving plate.
8. Remove the breast from the bone and slice. Place on the legs. Place a mango cheek next to each duck and drizzle with the balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Grind over a good amount of black pepper and sprinkle with salt.
9. Serve with roast potatoes and a green salad.
Find more of Neil Perry's recipes in the Good Food New Classics cookbook.