Either as a starter or a snack for the gluttonous, making Heston’s Potted Duck and Date Fig and Apple Chutney recipes is a great idea around Christmas time.
“Get a duck and put it in a pot?”
… was the answer I got when I asked if anyone knew how to make Potted Duck. “Ho ho ho”.
This was a recipe we made for over Christmas. The ingredients list is a warming combination of festive spices and seasonings, which when combined rich duck meat sounded perfect for this time of year.
The similar spices in the chutney made it seem like an ideal accompaniment. Heston’s Date, Fig and Apple Chutney recipe is also the recommended serving suggestion for Heston’s Potted Duck recipe in Heston at Home.
Plus: if we had a lot of leftover chutney we’d just have to get in some extra cheese at Christmas to make use of it all, right? I’m glad you like the way we think.
Recipes: Heston’s Potted Duck Recipe, Heston’s Date Fig & Apple Chutney Recipe (both featured in Heston at Home)
Special Equipment: None (though we used a Sous-vide cooker).
Special Ingredients: None
Time: 24 hours
Cost: Approx £12
Serves: 4 as a snack / starter.
Difficulty: Fairly easy.
Quantities are an issue here. Granted, we wanted extra chutney to eat with cheese, but a minute with the ingredients list and a calculator will show you that the net yield for this recipe will be well over a kilo.
The chutney keeps well, and we do like our cheese, but this is a lot even for us. We halved the quantities for the recipe and would recommend you do the same.
The duck keeps very well too. For that we’ actually recommend doubling the recipe here and filling a couple of jars for the fridge.
Heston’s Potted Duck Recipe
Not so much a recipe book (although it’s that as well) as a tale of Jeff’s kitchen adventures, an engineer bringing his scientific approach to his love of cooking. It is pretty much essential reading for anyone who loves the sciencey aspect of Heston’s cooking. This guy was writing Modernist Cuisine at Home before Dr. Nathan Myhrvold had even dreamed up the idea.
One of the Cooking for Geeks recipes is for Confit Duck. Jeff’s version uses just a fraction of the fat that a typical confit would, thanks to the magic of sous vide. You only need a few spoonfuls of duck fat to surround your duck legs with this method, not two whole jars.
We like this less wasteful (i.e. more affordable) approach so that’s what we’re trying it out. (Plus, it worked well when we made Heston’s Confit Recipe as part of our Heston Christmas Dinner Recipe bonanza)
Our second shortcut was to skip the salting process. We just added the spices along with the duck fat during the slow cooking. We figured this’d save time but still allow the flavours to penetrate the meat. Another advantage is that you can get away with using less spice, apparently.
Also, the salt goes on the skin, and we removed that before cooking because… slimy duck skin?!?! Gross! (Note: there’s a lot of sinew holding the skin to the leg, it’s quite an ordeal to remove it all prior to cooking)
Oh, and we skipped the entire smoking stage as well. It was Christmas and we’d done tons of cooking already. Give us a break.
That’s pretty much it: Pack it in the sous-vide rig (then weigh it down if there’s an air pocket because you’re crap at sealing vac bags. – I really need to ask Andy G. if he can do us all a sous-vide Beginners Guide).
18 hours later take the bag out, shred the meat then cover with the leftover fat. There should just be enough to do this, but if you kept your plentiful leftover jarred fat in the fridge you can melt some of that to cover the duck completely.
Heston’s Date, Fig & Apple Chutney Recipe
We’d never made chutney before, the process turned out to be far simpler than we expected.
First up you fry onions gently in quite a disturbing amount of oil (the onions are practically submerged!).
Next up: mix in your trio of fruits. How you cut them will affect the texture of the finished dish. I thought I’d cut the apples quite finely, to give a smoother result, but… nope.
Then add in apple juice, various zests and the spices. The simmer away for about 40 minutes until you have a pan full of thick, rich chutney.
A few words on storage:
- There’s going to be a hell of a lot of this, even when halving the recipe. Have at least 2 big jars ready.
- Sterilising and preparing those jars was easier than we expected. Fill with boiling water. Top out after a minute and then dry them off in a hot oven.
I think we overcooked the duck, which probably means I need to spend some time recalibrating our sous-vide rig. Our duck didn’t have quite the same lush pink colour as you see in Heston’s or Gary’s photos.
This does make a fantastically delicious starter or snack though. The rich spice combination in both the chutney and duck give it a really deep Christmas flavour.
Don’t have a Heston Recipe Mince Pie afterwards though, or your palette will experience severe cinnamon-fatigue!
This recipe works really well so the only next time steps we’d take are as follows:
- Salt and cure the Potted Duck as per the recipe. This shortcut version felt like a cheat.
- Leave the skin on prior to cooking. It’s not worth the hassle to remove it, even if you won’t be adding it to your jars.
- Make twice as much Potted Duck. It keeps really well, and we discovered that ours didn’t last quite as long as we’d hoped.
- Chutney… Actually I don’t think there’ll be a next time for the chutney. Even after heavy Christmas consumption we still have enough to last us from now until the sun implodes.
BigSpud – As always Gary beats us to it. Great write up, and Gary’s version looks closer to Heston’s version than ours does.
Back To The Chopping Board – A Beautifully photographed and detailed write up on both recipes from James here.
Have you made either of these recipes, or have you got a favourite chilli con carne recipe of your own?Let us know in the comments section below.