Duck, charred cucumber & malt

Duck, charred cucumber & malt

The New Nordic
Simon Bajada

This dish typifies new Nordic cuisine, borrowing a traditional technique but applying it to a different ingredient. In this case, cucumber takes on a delightful smokiness reminiscent of eggplant in baba ghanoush. Serve the rich duck with this sweet and earthy malt crumble alongside the crisp acidity of the apple and you will have a well-balanced contemporary dish that isn’t too complicated to make.


Quantity Ingredient
1 granny smith apple, cored and thinly sliced into acidulated water


Quantity Ingredient
2 apples, cored and halved
350g duck legs
1/2 fennel bulb, cut into 8 wedges
1 carrot, roughly chopped
2 celery stalks, roughly chopped
250ml chicken stock
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

Malt crumble

Quantity Ingredient
50g salted butter
60g rolled oats
1 tablespoon malt
2 tablespoons buckwheat flour

Charred cucumber

Quantity Ingredient
1 telegraph cucumber
2 tablespoons natural yoghurt


Quantity Ingredient
100g kale
1 tablespoon olive oil


  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C. Lay the apples for the duck, cut side down, in a casserole dish. In a hot frying pan, brown the duck legs, skin side down, until they have rendered all their fat and the skin is golden brown. Turn them over and cook for 1 minute before placing on top of the apples in the casserole.
  2. Sauté the fennel, carrot and celery in the duck fat and then pour in the stock and vinegar. Use these to deglaze the pan, scraping up any bits stuck to the base. Pour the contents of the pan over the duck. Cover the casserole with a layer of foil and then top with the lid. Cook in the oven for 1½ hours.
  3. Meanwhile, make the crumble by rubbing together all the ingredients in a bowl. If the mixture is sticking to your hands, add a little more flour. Spread out the crumble on a baking tray and cook in the oven for 10 minutes, or until golden. If the crumble clumps together in large lumps, break it up with wet hands, then return to the oven for 1 minute. Set aside.
  4. To make the charred cucumber, preheat a grill, barbecue or chargrill pan. Halve the cucumber lengthways and remove and discard the seeds. Cut each length in half crossways to give you 4 batons. Place them skin side towards the heat and cook for 5 minutes on each side, until soft. You don’t want them completely charred but you do want some dark colour. Transfer to a food processor, add the yoghurt and some salt and blend briefly, retaining some texture. Set aside.
  5. When the duck is ready, use two forks to pull the meat apart. Return the meat to the cooking juices to keep it warm.
  6. Wash and pat dry the kale, chopping it into smaller pieces if necessary. Heat the oil in a frying pan until very hot, almost smoking, then add the kale and sauté for less than a minute. Drain on paper towel.
  7. Arrange the drained raw apple slices, shredded duck and kale in serving bowls. Dollop around some cucumber purée and drizzle over some of the juices from the casserole (trying to avoid the fatty, oily parts). The fennel, carrot and celery are just for flavour so you can discard these. Top with malt crumble and serve.
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