Recipe by Alex Gregg, Head Chef – AGNES, Brisbane

Serves 4-6

Commence this recipe 4 days in advance to serving

2.2kg Pekin duck – neck and wings attached
500ml white vinegar

Using a sharp knife, remove the wings and neck from the duck and set aside for the duck sauce. Clean the cavity of the duck of any excess offal and blood.

2 bay leaves
1 cinnamon quill
1tsp cloves, whole
1tsp coriander seeds
1tsp allspice berries
1tsp fennel seeds
1tsp black peppercorns
4litres water
200g salt
1 head garlic – halved
1/2 bunch thyme

Gently toast the spices in a low oven then, in a large pot, combine with the remaining ingredients. Bring the brine to a low simmer or until salt has completely dissolved. Cool to room temperature. Into a container large container, transfer the cooled brine then completely submerge the duck. Refrigerate for 24 hours. Remove the duck from the liquid. Reserve the spices, garlic and thyme.

Add the reserved spices and white vinegar to a large pot of water and bring to a rapid simmer. Using a butcher’s hook inserted through the neck cavity of the duck, lower the duck into the simmering water. Submerge for 5 seconds and out for 5 seconds, repeating three times over a 30 second period. Submerge into an ice bath until completely cool. With a clean cloth, pat the duck dry inside and out then leave uncovered on a tray in the fridge for 3 days to dry out the skin.

Spice bag
1tsp caraway seeds
2tsp allspice berries
3tsp black peppercorns
½ tsp cloves, whole
½ bunch thyme
2 bay leaves

Wrap all ingredients in a clean piece of cheese cloth then secure with string. Reserve.

Smoked prunes and onions
500g pitted prunes
190ml Pedro Ximenez
1kg red pickling onions, peeled
315ml chicken jus
Spice bag – see above
Plum wood (for smoking)
10g smoked salt
Pinch Black pepper
30ml sherry vinegar, to taste

Tip- For improved flavour, make a few days in advance.

Marinate the prunes and Pedro Ximenez in a container overnight. Strain off the liquid and reserve. Using a smoke box or offset smoker, gently smoke the prunes over plum wood for about 20min or until a smoky flavour has been achieved. Remove the prunes and reserve.

Pre-heat a roasting pan in a 200C oven. Quarter the red pickling onions, season with oil and salt then roast in the hot pan for approx 15 min until slightly charred and broken down. To a clean pot, transfer the onions, reserved Pedro Ximenez and chicken jus. On a low heat, bring to a simmer and the spice bag. Continue to simmer until the sauce reduces and starts to become thick and syrupy. Remove the spice bag and add the smoked prunes then season the mix with smoked salt, black pepper and sherry vinegar.

Duck jus
Duck wings and neck
30ml vegetable oil
50g unsalted butter
2 shallots, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, halved
1tsp black peppercorns
1tsp coriander seeds
60ml brandy
¼ bunch thyme
2 bay leaves
1litre chicken jus

Tip – Make Duck jus a few days ahead, and any leftover can be frozen for further use. Use the heal of a heavy knife to chop the wings and neck into small pieces. Heat the vegetable oil in a sauce pot then fry off until the duck bones are lightly browned.

Add the butter, allow to foam then continue to fry until a deep golden colour. Strain the bones through a colander then discard the butter.
On a low heat, place the pot back on the stove to sweat the shallots, garlic and spices. To deglaze the pot, add the brandy then add the duck bones, herbs and chicken jus. Bring the sauce to a simmer and gently reduce by half. Strain the jus through a fine strainer and set aside.

After the 3 days, take the duck from the fridge and allow to come to room temperature. Pre-heat a fan forced oven to 200C. Lightly brush the duck with vegetable oil and season with salt. Place onto a wire rack inside a roasting tray. Roast for 30min then reduce oven temp to 180C. Continue to roast for 1hour or until the internal temperate of the thickest part of the thigh reaches 68C on a temperature probe then remove from oven. Allow the duck to rest for a minimum of 30min before carving.

To serve
In separate pots, gently warm the prunes and onions, and the duck jus. Once rested, carve the duck to your liking. Place the smoked prunes and onions onto a platter then top with the carved duck. Serve the jus separately or poured over the prunes.

Suggestion – Serve with a side of bitter leaves or duck fat potatoes.