Tamarind duck with fried cauliflower

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This is an exquisite duck leg recipe from Steve Drake. Tamarind is usually sweetened with sugar to balance the tartness. The sweet and sour flavour compliments the richness of the duck and the fried cauliflower balances the dish with earthy, nutty notes.

First published in 2015




Duck thigh

Duck leg braise

Duck sauce

Tamarind glaze

  • 230g of tamarind paste
  • 105g of brown sugar
  • 105ml of red wine vinegar
  • 105ml of white chicken stock



  • Mandoline
  • Water bath
  • Sous vide bags


For the brine, bring a pot of water to the boil. Once boiling add the salt and stir to dissolve
  • 500ml of water
  • 25g of salt
In dry pan, toast the cinnamon, pepper, coriander and star anise. As soon as the spices begin to release a strong aroma, remove them from pan and add to the brine. Transfer the brine to a suitable container and set aside in the fridge
To separate the duck thighs from the leg, pull back the skin to expose the line of fat that lines the joint. Slice through the line of fat and into the cartilage, ensuring you leave as much skin intact as possible. Set aside the duck legs
Remove the bones from the thighs by running a small knife down alongside the thigh bone and gently underneath to release the whole bone. Stretch the skin around the thigh to cover all the flesh and tie with a needle and thread ensuring that all the flesh is covered
Submerge the thighs in the brine for 12 hours. Remove the thighs from the curing brine and wash thoroughly with cold water. Dab dry, vacuum seal and cook in a water bath at 62˚C for 12 hours. Allow to cool in the water, remove and refrigerate until required
Pour enough rapeseed oil to cover the base of a large pan and place on a high heat. Place the duck legs in the pan and brown evenly all over. Place into a large, high-sided baking tray
  • rapeseed oil
Combine the wine, stock, garlic, bay, thyme, onion, carrot, and celery in a pot and bring to the boil. Once boiling, remove from the heat and pour the liquid over the duck legs, being sure that the legs are standing on their end and half of each leg is exposed
Heat the oven to 180˚C/gas mark 4. Place the legs and bones in the oven for 2 hours
After 1 hour of cooking, remove the duck bones and set aside. Leave the duck legs in to continue braising
For the duck sauce, pour enough rapeseed oil to cover the base of a large saucepan and place on a high heat. As soon as the pan begins to smoke, add the shallots, carrot, celery, garlic and thyme and cook until the ingredients are a dark golden brown colour
Turn down to a medium heat, add the wine and reduce until almost dry. Once dry, add the browned bones, brown chicken stock, peppercorns and coriander seeds and reduce to 250ml. Pour through a fine strainer and season to taste with salt
For the tamarind glaze, whisk together the paste, brown sugar, vinegar and white chicken stock. Place into a small saucepan, bring to a simmer and reduce to 200ml. Set aside until required
  • 230g of tamarind paste
  • 105g of brown sugar
  • 105ml of red wine vinegar
  • 105ml of white chicken stock
For the cauliflower, remove the stalks and cut into medium sized florets. Reserve 3 florets of cauliflower for the raw garnish. Drop into salted boiling water for 1 minute, strain and refresh in ice cold water
Place a pan on a medium-high heat and add enough rapeseed oil to cover the base of the pan. As soon as the pan beings to smoke, add the drained florets and cook until a dark golden colour. Remove from the pan, season with salt and set aside until required
Now, remove the thighs from the sous vide bags and the legs from the braising liquid. Toss gently in the tamarind glaze and place into the oven at 180˚C/gas mark 4 for the last 25 minutes of brasing time. After 15 minutes add the cauliflower into the oven
Meanwhile, place a large knob of butter in a medium sized pan on a medium heat. As soon as the butter begins to foam add the spinach and a pinch of salt. Cook until all the spinach has wilted and leave in the pan
Heat the duck sauce to a simmer, remove the duck and cauliflower from the oven and cut away the string from the thigh
To plate, place a bed of spinach into the middle of each plate, slice the thigh in half and place the leg on the spinach, supported by the thigh. Arrange the cauliflower around the duck and thinly shave the raw cauliflower to add to the duck. Spoon over the sauce, add a couple of sprigs of lemon cress and serve immediately
First published in 2015

Steve Drake started cooking while attending South End Technical College. Only a few years later, he started working his way up the ladder at The Ritz and earned a prestigious Roux Scholarship. Now he cooks at Sorrel, a modern British restaurant in Dorking, Surrey.

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