Roast breast of aylesbury duck on a bed of spinach with a confit duck leg and calvados sauce – by Alan Maw

11 September 2006
Roast breast of aylesbury duck on a bed of spinach with a confit duck leg and calvados sauce – by Alan Maw

Preparing the ducks

The birds have a dry skin. Alan Maw prepares large batches usually 25 birds because of demand. However the recipe can easily be scaled down.

  • Pull out any feathers. Singe any down.
  • Remove the legs. Cut around the knuckle joints so that the leg meat will more easily shrink while it is being "confit".
  • Extract the wishbones. Lift the breasts off and trim into a neat shape. Score the skin and fat.


For the confit 50 duck legs
1kg (2¼lb) coarse salt
2 bunches thyme
4 cloves garlic diced oil


Rub the duck legs with salt and flavourings. Leave in salt for 24 hours. Wash the legs and pat dry.

Put a little oil in a large rondeau. Add the legs cover and stew slowly in the oven or on the corner of the range for 4-5 hours until very tender.

For each portion

Put the leg into a hot oven for 10-15 minutes to warm through and crisp the skin.

For the apples 25 peeled Granny Smiths
About 5 litres (1 gallon) stock syrup
600g (1lb) sugar
1 litre (35fl oz) water flavoured with 1 stick cinnamon and 4-6 cloves according to strength


Halve and core the apples. Put them into the syrup. Poach without letting the syrup boil until the apples are cooked but still firm.

For each portion

Remove one half of the apple. Slice it to open like a fan but remain in one piece. Sprinkle the surface with caster sugar and glaze either in the oven under the salamander or in a non-stick pan.

For the sauce
50ml (scant 2fl oz) oil or melted butter
170g (6oz) apple trimmings
½ bottle medium sweet white wine
200ml (7fl oz) Calvados
1 litre (about 2 pints) veal jus (see recipe for Alan Maw's stock)
60ml (2fl oz) cider vinegar
Salt and pepper
30-40g (1-1½oz) butter per portion
Couple of handfuls of elderberries


Heat the oil/butter in a pan. Add the shallots and trimmings. Sweat for five minutes until soft. Deglaze the pan with Calvados. Boil then add wine berries and cider vinegar. Reduce until most of the liquid has evaporated.

Pour on the veal jus and reduce by about two-thirds. Strain the sauce into a clean pan and check seasoning.

For each portion

Pour about 60ml (½fl oz) sauce into a small pan. Add some of the remaining calvados and monté au beurre.

Alan Maw's basic stock

60lb veal bones
30lb beef bones
2 shins beef
1 tray plum tomatoes
2 large bunches thyme
3 garlic heads
5lb quarter onions skin on


Brown in the oven cover with water (minimum 100 pints). Simmer for 36 hours strain. Pass through muslin and reduce to demi-glaze consistency.

The duck breasts (per portion)

Heat a non-stick pan. Pan-fry the duck breast skin-side down first. Turn and fry for a bit longer.

Set to one side and allow to rest thoroughly. It should be pink not raw in the centre and the juices perfectly distributed through the flesh. Season.

For the spinach garnish (per portion)

150g (5oz) washed Pousse Epinard - young spinach
30g (1oz) butter
Melt butter in a pan. Add a little water and whisk to emulsify it. Add a pinch of salt.
Now add the spinach and blanch well. Drain excess moisture.

To assemble the dish

Lay the spinach to one side of the plate. Rest the duck leg over it. Slice the duck breast and arrange across the plate. Arrange the fanned glazed apple to balance the presentation. Add a cordon of sauce.

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