Courier Life Food

Duck fatteh with chickpea pilaf, pomegranates, aubergines and walnuts

For a Middle East-inspired festive feast, Sam and Sam Clark of Moro restaurant, in Exmouth Market, have shared a delicious duck, rice and aubergine recipe.

25 Nov 2016

This is a variation on chicken fatteh, a popular dish in Lebanon. It’s a true celebration of rice and spice, with pomegranates, quince, walnuts and duck – an opulent choice for a Lebanese village.

We roast the duck and make a nice stock from the carcass to cook the rice, with cinnamon and allspice as the main avours. You can eat this from autumn right through to Christmas; it’s a great sharing dish for a dinner party with friends. It’s also easy to arrange in advance: cook the duck and rice beforehand, then it’s simply a question of reheating it and layering it up.

We like to describe the food at Moro as where herbs meet spice, inspired by the Moorish reign in southern Spain in the eighth century.

Duck fatteh with chickpea pilau, pomegranates, aubergines and walnuts
Ingredients (serves 8)
1 Barbary or Gressingham duck, about 2.5kg 450ml light chicken stock
1 tbsp sea salt, fine 1 large aubergine, cut into 2cm cubes
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon 1 tsp fine sea salt
1 large pomegranate, seeds only 6 tbsp olive oil
25g unsalted butter 2 quinces
2 pitta breads 3 handfuls of caster sugar
75g unsalted butter 500g good-quality Greek yoghurt, such as Total, mixed with 6 tbsp water and 1/2 a crushed garlic clove
2 4cm pieces of cinnamon stick 75g walnuts, broken roughly
300g basmati rice, soaked in tepid water for 1 hour
400g tin of chickpeas, drained

Preheat the oven to 230°C/450°F/Gas mark 8.

To roast the duck, dry the skin with a tea towel and remove the giblets. Rub the skin with the sea salt and ground cinnamon and place breast-side down on a rack in a roasting tray. Roast for 20 minutes, then turn over and roast for 20 minutes on the other side. Turn the oven down to 180°C/350°F/Gas mark 4 and roast for a further two hours.

Meanwhile, prepare the crispbread. Melt the butter over a low heat. As it is melting, warm the pitta in the oven for a couple of minutes, then carefully split each bread open into two halves and brush the butter on both sides. Place the halves on a rack on the middle shelf of the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden.

For the chickpea pilaf, heat the butter with the cinnamon in a medium saucepan until it foams. Add the onion and fry over a medium heat for about 15 minutes, until sweet and golden. Drain the rice well and add it to the onion. Fry for a minute, stirring to coat it in the butter, then add the chickpeas and chicken stock, along with a good pinch of salt. Cover with a circle of greaseproof paper and a tight-fitting lid and boil for 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook for 5 minutes more. Remove from the heat and leave to rest, covered, for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Toss the aubergine cubes with the sea salt and leave in a colander for 20 minutes. Pat dry with kitchen paper. Heat the olive oil in a wide frying pan or a large wok over a high flame. Add the aubergine cubes and fry for about 15 minutes, until soft and brown. Place on kitchen paper to blot any excess oil. Keep warm.

Prepare the quinces as you would an apple; leave the peel on, quarter and core them. Put them in a saucepan with enough water to just cover them, then add the cinnamon and the caster sugar.  Simmer with the lid off for 10-15 minutes, until the quinces are tender, then lift out of the poaching liquid with a slotted spoon and keep warm.

When the duck is cooked, remove it from the oven, place on a carving board and pour off any excess fat from the roasting tray. Put the tray over a medium heat and pour in the pomegranate juice, stirring to deglaze. Season with salt and pepper.

At this stage, it is just a question of layering things up on one or more big platters or serving dishes. Everything needs to be hot apart from the crispbread and yoghurt. The duck needs to be carved into small pieces, breast off the bone, the thighs in half, then it can be gently warmed in the oven in necessary, but try to time it so it stays hot and crisp.

First, layer half the crispbread, broken by hand into pieces, then the pilaf, then the duck, then the aubergine, then the quince, then a drizzling of the pomegranate sauce, then the remaining crispbread, the yoghurt and finally lots of parsley leaves, the walnuts and the pomegranate seeds. Eat right away.