Recipe: Make our ‘cheat’s crispy duck with courgetti and five spice kale crisps

PUBLISHED: 14:04 12 February 2019 | UPDATED: 14:04 12 February 2019

Crispy duck with courgetti and five spice kale crisps  Picture: Archant

Crispy duck with courgetti and five spice kale crisps Picture: Archant


Even beginner cooks should be able to make this really simply and delicious duck dish.

“Oh god, what are you going to do with that?”

My friend, reaching for the milk in my fridge to top up her tea, noticed a couple of packets of Gressingham duck legs.

“I’m going to confit them,” I replied, trying not to sound smug.

“Ooh, fancy. You always cook hard stuff,” she laughed. But I had to disagree. It really isn’t difficult to cook duck, and it is just packed with rich, gamey flavours. Remove the fat from a duck breast, and you have a pretty lean basis for a warm salad or stir fry.

This week I want to dispel the myth that duck’s difficult for home cooks to dish up, with a very easy plate of food which can be adapted and switched up according to the seasons.

It starts, with an absolute quacker (sorry cracker!) – my easy, cheat’s ‘confit’ duck. I’ve been making this for years and it is totally fail safe and gives incredible results. Traditionally, confit duck is simmered for hours in a vat of duck or goose fat until it yields and softens, but my method throws out the rule book. All you need to do is pop duck legs in a slow cooker on high for three hours, pat them dry and finish in the oven. If I want to treat my kids (who are fiends for crispy duck) I rub the cooked legs in five spice before blasting in the oven, and serve them shredded in wraps with cucumber, spring onions and hoi sin sauce (the best is Stokes, made in Suffolk).

Keeping it light, this time I’ve used a spiralizer (from £5.99 in kitchen shops like Lakeland Ltd) to turn courgette into healthy green spaghetti, which is blanched to soften and tossed in a local Asian style dressing.

On top is a sprinkling of homemade kale crisps. These are dead easy to make and have been an absolute hit in my household. My husband (despite being nearly 42) still recoils at green veg and although my children like their greens, they find kale chewy. But baked on low for less than 20 minutes in the oven, with some seasoning, this sometimes inedibly tough leafy ingredient becomes light, wafer-like and damn tasty. If you like a bit of heat, switch out the five spice in the recipe for Japanese togarashi seasoning (that’s the stuff you’ll find in those wooden shakers in Wagamama). A blend of ground orange peel, chilli, pepper, sesame, ginger and seaweed, it adds a salty, spicy, unique dimension to food and is excellent with greens like kale.

If you cook the duck in advance, this plate can be on the table in less than 20 minutes mid-week. If you don’t like courgette (try it courgette form you might be surprised) use noodles instead. And if your budget doesn’t stretch to duck, this recipe works brilliantly with chicken legs too. It easily scales up to feed four or more.

Cheat’s confit duck with courgette and five spice kale crisps

(serves 2)


2 duck legs (I used Gressingham)

3 medium or 2 large courgettes or 2 packs of prepared courgetti

2-3tbsps Scarlett and Mustard Ginger and Soy Sauce or Crush Soy, Ginger and Chilli Dressing

2 handfuls curly kale

1tsp five spice

1/2tsp caster sugar

Rapeseed oil or spray oil


You might want to start the day before. Pop your duck legs in a slow cooker with a quarter of a mug of water. Cook on high for three hours. Once cooked, remove to kitchen paper, pat dry, prick all over with a skewer or fork, and season with salt and pepper. You can leave this in the fridge for up to two days.

On the day of cooking, remove from the oven one hour before you want to eat. Pop in the oven at 220C for 15 minutes to crisp up, then shred.

Once the duck has cooked, turn the oven down to 120C. Remove the stalky, tough centres of the kale, rip the leaves into bite size pieces and pop onto a large roasting tray. Spray with a little oil, or coat lightly in oil, then toss in the sugar and five spice. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until crisp, but not coloured.

Use a spiralizer to turn the courgettes into fine courgetti. Bring a pan of salted water to the boil and blanch the courgette for two minutes, then drain thoroughly.

To serve, toss the courgette in the dressing and plate up. Top with the cooked shredded duck and crispy kale. You might want to add some other veg like stir-fried red peppers or mange tout. Delicious.

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