I first had this dish in a restaurant in New Orleans called Herbsaint. It’s a great way to use up duck legs or, at this time of year, you may want to make it with wild-duck or game-bird leftovers. You can serve it for breakfast, brunch or dinner and it would make a great pre-shooting or fishing breakfast.
2 large or 4 small duck legs
250g-300g goose or duck fat
6 cloves of garlic, halved
1 bay leaf
A few sprigs of thyme
10 black peppercorns
2 medium onions, peeled and roughly diced
350g small waxy potatoes, peeled, cooked and cut into rough 1cm chunks or quartered if they’re small
Salt and pepper
1tbsp Worcestershire sauce
4 free-range duck eggs
Pre-heat the oven to 175˚C/gas mark 4. Tightly pack the duck legs in a small pan with the duck fat, garlic, bay leaf, thyme and peppercorns. Add a teaspoon of sea salt, cover with a lid or foil and cook in the oven for about an hour and a half or until the meat is soft and coming away from the bone. Leave the fat to cool, strain into a container or preserving jar and store in the fridge for roasting potatoes.
Take a spoonful or so of the duck fat and fry the onions in a covered, thick-bottomed pan for 5-6 minutes until they’re soft, stirring occasionally. Then, remove the lid and turn up the heat to give them a little colour. Put them into a mixing bowl.
Heat some more duck fat in a frying pan (cast-iron, preferably) until it’s very hot and cook the potatoes a few at a time on a high heat until they’re lightly coloured, then add them to the onions. Remove the meat from the duck legs and cut it into chunks, with the skin, about the same size as the potatoes. Mix well and season; add Worcestershire sauce to taste.
Divide the mixture and mould into four flat, roughly 3in cakes with the help of a stainless-steel mould or just by hand with a palette knife, then refrigerate for a couple of hours or overnight.
Press the breadcrumbs into the cakes, then heat some oil in a frying pan-preferably non-stick-and cook for about 3-4 minutes on each side until they’re golden and crisp. Keep them warm in the oven once they’re cooked. When all the hashes are cooked, fry four duck eggs, transfer the hashes to warm plates and slide a fried egg on to each hash.
Marrow with chorizo and a poached egg
Marrow tends not to have an awful lot of flavour on its own, so the more help you can give it the better. I’ve been using a lot of British chorizo of late, made by The Bath Pig Company. I hadn’t been able to find a suitable replacement for the Spanish, but now it sits comfortably on my menu. Cooked up with marrow, this makes a perfect breakfast or brunch dish with a poached or fried egg on top.
1 small marrow
2tbsp vegetable or corn oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
A couple good knobs of butter
1 medium onion, peeled, halved and finely chopped
120g cooking chorizo
120g fresh white breadcrumbs
4 free range eggs
Top and tail the marrow if necessary, then cut into four lengthways and scoop out the seeds. Cut into 1cm-thick slices, then lay on a tray and scatter with a little salt and leave for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the butter in a pan and gently cook the onion and chorizo for 4-5 minutes, breaking it up with the back of the spoon as it’s cooking until it resembles mincemeat. Remove from the heat, then stir in the breadcrumbs. If the chorizo hasn’t broken down, you can give it a quick blend with the breadcrumbs in a food processor.
Preheat a grill to maximum setting. Drain any liquid from the marrow slices and pat them dry with kitchen paper, then heat the oil in a large, heavy, reliable or non-stick frying pan. Season the marrow slices with pepper only, then fry them on a fairly high heat for 4-5 minutes, turning them as they’re cooking, until tender. You’ll probably need to do this in a couple of batches, depending on the size of your pan.
Once it’s cooked, toss the marrow in two-thirds of the breadcrumb mixture and transfer to an ovenproof dish and scatter the rest of the crumbs on top. Place the dish under the grill for a few minutes until nicely coloured.
Mark Hix’s ‘Seasonal Food’ is available from Quadrille at £25