Chocolate can work well in both sweet and savoury dishes. Cocoa (or cacao) nibs make chocolate flavours even more versatile, adding a robustly savoury edge and crunchy texture to all kinds of recipes, even roast duck! Orange is such a classic foil for the richness of duck meat. Adding a deeply concentrated vinaigrette with a subtle hint of coffee and the savoury earthiness of cocoa nibs transforms it into something truly special.
2 x size 22 ducks (about 2.2kg each)
4 tbsp salt flakes, plus extra
1 tbsp ground black pepper, plus extra
1 tbsp ground allspice
30ml olive oil
1 litre chicken stock
1 fresh bay leaf
3 thyme sprigs
2 garlic cloves
2 tbsp freshly ground coffee
50ml robust extra virgin olive oil
30ml sherry vinegar
watercress, to serve
2 tbsp crushed cocoa nibs
1. Before cooking: When you buy the ducks, ask the butcher or poultry supplier to pop the thigh bones out of the hip sockets and to remove the wishbones. This will make it easier to bone the ducks after cooking them. One day before roasting, take the ducks out of their wrapping and sit them uncovered on a tray in the fridge to drain any juices and dry out the skin. This is optional, though it will help you achieve a crispier skin. It's important to bring the ducks up to room temperature before cooking.
2. Preheat the oven to 180C fan-forced or 200C conventional.
3. Grind the salt flakes, pepper and allspice in a mortar. Add the olive oil and mix.
4. Trim the necks and any excess fat from the cavities. Rub the salt mix all over the ducks, inside and out. Prick all over with a small knife and place on a roasting rack in a roasting tray. Roast on the middle shelf for one hour. Remove from the oven and rest for 20 minutes.
5. Once rested, score the skin in two lines down the back of one of the ducks. Turn over and, using your knife, fillet one side of the duck right down the breast to the thigh and drumstick and right to the back of the duck. The complete side should come away quite easily. Twist and remove the thighbone and transfer the half duck, skin-side up, to a baking tray lined with baking paper. Repeat for the other side, and for the other duck.
6. Chop over the carcasses and add to a pot with the stock, bay leaf, thyme, garlic and coffee. Peel off the rind of half an orange and add to the pot. Simmer for 45 minutes.
7. Meanwhile, peel and slice three of the oranges, season with salt and pepper and chill until needed. Juice the remaining orange and set aside.
8. Strain the duck stock and add to a medium saucepan with the orange juice. Reduce to about 150 millilitres and set aside to cool a little before adding the extra virgin olive oil and sherry vinegar. Adjust the seasoning and stir to combine.
9. Preheat the oven to 200C fan-forced or 220C conventional.
10. Roast the duck halves for 15-20 minutes. Turn on the grill element for the last five minutes until the skin is crisp and the ducks are hot.
11. Gently warm the duck vinaigrette on the stove.
12. Slice or tear the duck into pieces. Place the oranges on your plates and then top with duck. Drop on a handful of watercress, dust with the cocoa nibs, drizzle over the vinaigrette and serve.
1. Leftover duck is great shredded for a sang choy bao or in fried rice.
2. Use any remaining vinaigrette to dress freshly pan-fried duck or chicken livers and serve with toasted sourdough and endive.