Cornish duck recipe with white polenta, cavolo nero and salsa verde

Slow-cooked Cornish duck with white polenta, cavolo nero and salsa verde recipe Try this for slow-cooked Cornish duck recipe with white polenta, cavolo nero and salsa verde – serves 4

By Andy Appleton


For the duck confit:
100g coarse sea salt, such as ‘gros sel’
4 large duck legs
900g duck or goose fat

For the polenta:
600ml full cream milk
600ml water
200g white polenta (preferably not instant)
75g butter
50g Parmesan cheese, finely grated

For the salsa verde:
10g flat leaf parsley leaves, roughly chopped
10g mint leaves, roughly chopped
10g basil leaves
3 tbsp capers in brine, drained and rinsed
3-4 anchovy fillets in olive oil, drained
1 fat garlic clove
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1½ tbsp good red wine vinegar
100-120ml extra virgin olive oil
For the cavolo nero:
400g cavolo nero, leaves stripped from their central stalks
25g butter
Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Make the duck confit at least 24 hours before you want to cook this dish, but the further in advance you make it the better. Layer the duck legs in a glass bowl with the coarse salt, cover and leave in the fridge for 6 hours, turning the legs over half way through. But don’t leave them any longer or they will become too salty.

Rub the salt off the duck and pat them dry with kitchen paper. Bring the duck or goose fat to a gentle simmer in a large, flameproof casserole in which the duck legs will fit snugly. Add the legs, making sure that they are completely submerged, cover and leave to blip away very gently for 2 1/2 hours. Remove the pan from the heat, leave to cool and then chill for at least 24 hours or until needed.

The next day, or when you are ready to start cooking, bring the milk and water to the boil in a medium-sized pan (non-stick would be perfect). Slowly trickle in the polenta, stirring all the time, and bring to a simmer. Lower the heat and leave to cook very gently, stirring every 4-5 minutes, for 11/2 hours, until silky-smooth.

After the polenta has been cooking for 1 hour, preheat the oven to 220C/Gas Mark 7. Bring another large pan of salted water to the boil for the cavolo nero.

Lift the duck legs out of the fat and wipe off most of it with kitchen paper. Put them skin-side up on a rack resting over a roasting tin and roast for 20 minutes until the skin is crisp and golden and the meat has heated through. If the skin does not crisp while roasting pan-fry it until it is crisp.

While the duck and polenta are cooking, make the salsa verde. Put the parsley, mint, basil, capers, anchovies and garlic onto a chopping board and chop together into a coarse paste. Transfer the mixture into a bowl and stir in the mustard, red wine vinegar, olive oil and some salt and pepper to taste.

Shortly before the polenta is ready, drop the prepared cavolo nero into the boiling water and cook for 2 minutes until just tender. Drain well, lightly press out any excess water, then return to the pan with a little butter and some seasoning and toss together well.

Stir the butter, grated cheese and some salt to taste into the polenta and spoon it into the centre of 4 warmed plates. Pile a few cavolo nero leaves on top, and then finish with a duck leg. Drizzle over a little of the salsa verde and serve the rest separately.

• Different brands of polenta take varying times to cook, so always read the side of the packet for additional cooking advice.
• Instant polenta is as it suggests, much quicker to cook. It is yellow in colour and doesn’t have such a good flavour, but if you are short on time, only takes 40 minutes or so to cook.
• Take care when cooking polenta as it can be quite ‘volcanic’ while it is cooking. Cover the pan with a meshed splatter guard if you have one.


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