Roast duck is an excellent alternative to turkey, especially if you do not need to feed a large group or want to be eating it for a week. Although associated with more Middle Eastern dishes, Shawarma paste brings many of the flavours that we associate with Christmas, such as cinnamon, ginger and allspice, which combine brilliantly with the rich, dark meat of a duck. The preparation and cooking is actually very simple (duck takes a lot less time to cook than you’d realise), but for best results, this recipe needs to be started a day ahead, as it will give the duck time to absorb the flavours and for the skin to dry out a little.
2kg duck, giblets removed (keep the neck for making stock)
3 tbsp Shawarma Paste
1 tbsp brandy
3 clementines (oranges can also work, but you will only need 2)
Salt and pepper
2 small onions peeled and thinly sliced.
5kg potatoes, peeled and cut into 1cm slices.
200ml chicken stock
Remove the wings and keep for making stock for gravy, along with the neck.
Fill a kettle with water and bring to the boil. Once boiled, place the duck in a clean sink on top of a wire rack and slowly pour the boiling water all over the skin of the duck, trying to avoid getting too much into the cavity. Refill the kettle and boil again. Once boiled, turn the duck over and again pour boiling water onto the skin. Carefully lift the duck and the rack out of the sink and place on a tray. Dry the skin and the cavity with kitchen paper. Use the tip of a small knife or skewer to make small holes all over the skin of the duck (this is to allow the marinade to absorb and the fat to escape), then place in a fridge to cool and dry off for 2 hours.
Whilst the duck is cooling, use a small bowl to mix the Shawarma Paste with the brandy and juice of 1 clementine then season with salt. Take the duck out of the fridge and use your hands to rub the marinade all over the outside and the inside cavity. Cut the remaining clementines into chunks, stuff inside the cavity, then try to close the cavity by holding the skin together with a cocktail stick or skewer. Place the duck back in the fridge, uncovered, to marinate overnight, or at least for 8 hours.
When ready to cook the duck, remove from the fridge about 1 hour before. Heat your oven to 180C fan, 200C non-fan.
Prep the potatoes and onions then place into a baking dish that is around the same size or slightly larger than the duck, layering them up and seasoning with salt and pepper as you do, then pour over the chicken stock. The duck is going to cook on the actual rack of the oven, with the potatoes and onions placed underneath to catch all the fat and flavour that will fall from the duck.
Position the racks in your oven so that the duck has enough space and the tray with the potatoes and onions are just underneath then carefully place the duck and tray into the oven. Roast for 1 hour. This amount of cooking should give you a duck that is cooked but still juicy, and slightly pink around the centre of the legs. If you prefer it more well done, cook it for a further 20 minutes. Test that the potatoes are cooked by inserting a knife and seeing if there is any resistance – they can be cooked for longer whilst the duck is resting.
Remove the duck from the oven and place on a large plate and allow to rest for at least 20 minutes before serving. When ready to serve, carve the duck and serve alongside the potatoes, a few pieces of clementine and any juices that have collected.