Sugar-cured duck with plums,
orange and Marsala

Serves 4

Making a brine for the duck keeps it extra juicy when roasted and tender to eat.
I serve this with some buttery mashed celeriac on the side.  

25g rock salt
40g caster sugar 
a few black peppercorns
a couple of sprigs of rosemary
2 cloves of garlic
4 duck legs, 175–200g each
6–8 plums

For the sauce
2 shallots
50g cold butter 
250ml freshly squeezed orange juice
100ml chicken stock
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons marmalade (I like the bitterness of Seville orange or lemon) 
3 tablespoons Marsala
a squeeze of lemon juice

Put the salt, sugar, peppercorns and rosemary into a pan and pour in 1 litre of water. Squash the unpeeled garlic cloves with the flat side of a knife so they split, and add to the pan. Bring the liquid to simmering point, then turn off the heat and leave it to cool completely.

Tip the cold brine into a plastic box, bowl or dish. Add the duck legs – they should be fully immersed. Cover and chill overnight, or just for a couple of hours if you want to cook the duck the same day.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas 4. Remove the duck legs from the brine, which can now be discarded, and pat them dry with kitchen paper. Put the duck legs into a roasting tin and prick the skin all over. Roast the duck for 1 hour 30 minutes, adding the plums, stoned and quartered, for the final 30 minutes. 

For the sauce, peel and finely chop the shallots. Melt a little of the butter in a pan and gently cook the shallots until really soft. Add the orange juice, stock and bay leaf, then bring to the boil and bubble to reduce by half. Cube the remaining butter. 

Stir the marmalade, Marsala and a squeeze of lemon juice into the sauce and bubble for a further minute, then whisk in the cubed butter and take the pan off the heat.

Put the crispy duck legs on a platter, scatter the plums around them and drizzle someof the sauce over the top. Serve the rest of the sauce alongside.

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Sugar-cured duck with plums, 
orange and Marsala