Prep 5 mins
Cook 2 hrs 30 mins
For the duck
1.5-2kg/3lb 5oz-4lb 8oz oven-ready duck
2 tsp coarse sea salt
4 tbsp clear honey
2 tsp sesame seeds
For the red wine sauce
125ml red wine
150ml chicken stock (or water with a small sprinkling of chicken stock cube)
knob of butter
Heat oven to 160ºC/fan 140ºC/gas 3. Score the duck breast skin with a sharp knife. This helps release excess fat from the skin as the bird roasts. Season the duck with the sea salt and pepper, then sit it on a rack set in a roasting tray and roast for 1½ hrs. Remove the bird from the oven and pour off the excess fat collected in the tray.
Return the duck to the roasting tray, then spoon 3 tbsp of the honey over to cover the breasts and legs. Roast the duck for a further hr, basting with the honey every 10-15 mins. Sprinkle the sesame seeds on top during the final 10 mins of roasting.
Once cooked, remove duck from the roasting tray, and allow it to rest for 10-15 mins. Spoon the remaining tbsp of honey over the duck as it rests.
Meanwhile, make the sauce. Pour off any excess fat from the roasting tin, leaving behind a couple of tbsp of the honey and duck juices. Heat the roasting tray on top of the stove.
Once the contents sizzle and become well caramelised, pour in the red wine, then boil for a few mins to reduce by about a third. Pour in the chicken stock (or water and stock cube), then simmer for several mins, also allowing it to slightly reduce to strengthen the flavour. Finish off the sauce (which is quite loose) with the knob of butter. Season with salt and pepper and strain through a fine sieve, if you like.
Now finish it in style: some say they prefer to serve just the half duck on the plate. To do this, remove the duck breasts and legs from the breast bone by cutting either side of the breast bone, following its natural line.
Drizzle any excess honey juices over and offer all accompaniments separately.
Wine of the Week
Isla Negra Reserva
Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé 2010
Tesco £4.49 (special offer until 17 May)
As our warmest April on record was succeeded by a May which bids fair to carry on with the sunshine, this Chilean Rosé is just right for accompanying the weather — especially offered at half-price. On the nose, refreshing minerality, and a touch of fruit. In the glass, a pink of substantial colour, as one would expect, proclaiming the single grape, Cabernet Sauvignon with its often powerful strong dark fruit. Here, though, the wine has been made by skilfully resting it just long enough on the skins to give subtle lighter flavours of red cherries and redcurrants, married with crisp green apple on the palate to preserve an invigorating but balanced dryness, which continues to a very good finish.
Alcohol by Vol. is 12.5%. A lighter glass bottle encloses the wine: drink with the knowledge that you are helping to reduce its carbon footprint. This is an excellent summer aperitif, so it would be wise to invest in a few bottles before they return to £8.99 each. Accompanies well light chicken or duck as well as vegetarian dishes.