The ‘ménage a trois’ that is duck, port and cherries is truly a harmonious one! The rich, tender, dark duck meat combined with the sweetness of the fruit is simply delicious and the thyme-infused pastry is light and crisp – a fabulous Autumnal or Winter supper treat that will bring cheer to the table, whatever the weather is throwing at you. Dive in!
What you need…
1 x 1.6 litre pie dish, lightly buttered
6 duck legs
600ml boiling water from the kettle
1½ chicken stock pots (I use Knorr)
1 large onion, peeled and roughly chopped
1 carrot, peeled and roughly chunked
1 celery stick, roughly sliced
3 tablespoons plain flour
1 bay leaf
6 thyme sprigs, leaves picked
400g tin cherries in light syrup, drained
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 happy egg, beaten (to glaze pastry lid)
for the pastry
400g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
200g unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
1 happy egg
2 tablespoons cold water
1 tablespoon thyme leaves
What to do…
Preheat your oven to 180°c / 350° / gas 4.
Put the duck legs on a wire rack in a roasting tray. Roast for 1½ hours. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, make the delish filling. First, make your stock by combining the boiling water with the stockpot using a balloon whisk to easily dissolve.
In your food processor, finely chop the onion, carrot and celery.
In a large frying pan, melt the butter and gently cook the onion, carrot and celery, covered, for about 15 minutes, until soft.
Remove the lid, increase the heat to high, tip in the flour and cook for 1 minute, stirring like mad. Pour in the port and stock and chuck in the herbs. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 30 minutes to reduce.
Take off the heat, stir in the cherries and balsamic vinegar and set aside to cool.
When the duck is cool, remove the skin and roughly break up the meat. Wipe out your food processor bowl with kitchen roll to make sure there are no raw vegetable remnants clinging to the sides and then fit the blade and chop the duck so it’s quite fine but still in distinguishable pieces. I did this in three batches. Stir the duck into the sauce. Allow to cool for 30 minutes. Alternatively, if you’re preparing ahead, stick the filling in the fridge until you’re ready to assemble the pie – overnight works really well.
To make the pastry, pulse the flour and butter in your clean food processor until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
Use a small balloon whisk to beat together the egg and water and then tip into the processor with the thyme leaves. Pulse again until the pastry comes together. Tip out onto a lightly floured surface and shape into a disc. Wrap in cling film and pop into the fridge for 30 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 220°c / 425°f / gas 7 and pop in a baking sheet.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out two-thirds of the pastry and line your pie dish, leaving the excess overhanging.
Roll out the remaining pastry and cut into 1 cm strips long enough to cover the pie dish.
Brush the pie rim with beaten egg. Tip in the filling.
Lay the pastry strips across the filling in a lattice pattern, gently pressing them on the pie rim to stick. Trim the excess pastry from the edge of the pie and brush egg over the pastry lattice to glaze.
Pop into the oven onto the baking sheet for 20 minutes and then reduce the heat to 200°c / 400°f / gas 6 for a further 25 minutes until golden brown and piping hot. Dive in and enjoy this lovely pie!
Good Housekeeping magazine
Really easy and you can go off and do other things whilst the filling is going through its various cooking stages. The pastry topping takes a little time and you have to concentrate – look at mine: I was Skyping Maddie at the time and the latticework isn’t quite what it should be!!!!! I love the fact that you can prepare the filling the day before so if you’ve got friends coming around, you have very little to do for this splendid supper on the evening when you’re socialising.