If there’s one thing that my family finds hard to resist when it pops up on a menu, it’s duck. It must be genetic.
It’s not something I cook often, but when I do it’s always delicious. So last week when frozen whole ducks were half price, I jumped at the opportunity to grab one. Once I got it home though, I wondered what the hell I was going to do with it when it was still summery hot weather and when I’m used to using fresh duck breasts. The risk with prefrozen meat is that it could quite possibly be a little tough, so without a doubt this little duck was going to need a little love. Slow Cooker love.
With the weather cooling down in time for the beginning of autumn, it became time for a heart warming curry and suddenly, a perfect way to use our whole duck; a Thai Red Duck Curry.
It took 2 days to thaw the duck, so keep that in mind when planning to make this recipe. With a bit of prep, this is one of those leave it to cool itself feasts, that are absolutely fantastic and leave plenty of time for doing something more exciting than slaving over a hot stove. It’s the perfect Sunday dinner and if there’s not a huge group to feed, it makes more than enough for freezing or the next night too.
SLOW COOKER RED DUCK CURRY
1 whole frozen duck, thawed
2 brown onions
3-4 cloves of garlic, peeled, smashed and roughly chopped
1 long red chilli, roughly chopped, seeds in
2 kaffir lime leaves
3-4 tbsp red curry paste (store bought, or find a special one like the one by Food by Fiat available at the Carriageworks Farmers Market)
1 tin of pineapple, drained and chopped (optional for Gestational Diabetes)
Caster sugar (omit for Gestational Diabetes)
1-2 limes - for their juice
Coriander, roasted unsalted cashews and basmati rice
You’ll need a slow cooker and a heavy based fry pan for this recipe.
1. Prepare the duck by opening it and rinsing if necessary. Pat dry and set aside.
2. Heat a frypan over a medium high heat. Add a good drizzle of peanut oil. When heated add the onion, chilli and garlic. Stir till aromatic.
Scrunch together the kaffir like leaves to release the oils and add them to the frypan. Stir again until aromatic.
3. Add the red curry paste and stir together for 1-2 minutes.
Remove from heat and put the mixture into the slow cooker.
4. Return the pan to the stove and place over a medium heat. Do not have the stove too high for this step, as it will be too hot for the duck.
Add the duck to the pan before it’s warm to heat slowly with the pan. This will help to render the fat and brown the skin of the duck. Turn the duck with both hands (I used tongs in both hands) being careful of the spitting duck fat. It’s best to turn it away from you to avoid it spitting towards you.
Continue turning until the duck is browned and the fat renders down.
TIP Continue browning/rendering the duck skin and fat further from the point shown
in the image above. Test this by 'feeling' the skin and testing that the amount of fat
between the skin and the flesh is reducing. You'll also be able to see this happening
as it will be filling your pan as it 'melts away'. You can also reserve this excess fat in a
container to use in other recipes at a later stage. It's great for duck fat potatoes, and
is better than wasting it by throwing it away.
When rendered further, remove from heat and add the duck to the slow cooker, on top of the onion mix.
5. Pour in one can of the coconut cream (reserving the second for the last 15-20 mins of cooking) and the boiling water with the stock cube.
Add the baby potatoes and agitate the mixture with a wooden spoon to ensure the onion mixture isn’t stuck under the duck (to avoid it burning).
6. Cover the duck and turn the slow cooker to a LOW heat for 3 hours.
7. After 3 hours, remove the lid, stir the mixture and turn the duck over. Use a shallow spoon to skim off 3/4 of the fat that will be building up on the surface of the curry. Discard this and give the curry a good stir.
Add the carrot and zucchini, stir again and replace the lid.
Turn the slow cooker up to HIGH for the next 1.5-2 hours.
8. After this time, remove the duck to a plate. Discard the majority of the skin and shred the meat to a bowl. Discard the bones.
9. Skim as much of the remaining excess fat from the surface and discard one last time. Add the pineapple and snowpeas to the slow cooker and remove the lid to help reduce the liquid for the remaining hour.
TIP Leave a small amount of the duck fat on the surface of the curry as it will enhance flavour and keep the meal moist. There will be a good amount to remove though as duck does have a significant amount of fat under the skin.
10. When the curry has reduced a little it is almost ready. Add the remaining coconut cream a good few dashes of fish sauce, sprinkle in approximately 1-2 tsp of caster sugar (if using) and squeeze in the fresh lime juice to taste.
Cook for a further 15-20 minutes then turn off the heat.
Serve the curry with basmati rice, cashews and fresh coriander.
With a spicy sweet Thai Red Duck Curry, you can’t go wrong with a delish bottle of gewürztraminer or a riesling. A hint of sweetness to cut through a dry wine will be perfect. Both will suit the curry, it’s just a matter of choosing which one you should have... maybe you’ll need a bottle of each!
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