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Rich and full of flavour, duck meat is extremely nutritious, with high levels of protein, B vitamins and minerals such as zinc, potassium, magnesium and iron. Weight for weight, it has less meat than chicken and turkey but, because its flavour is strong, a little goes a long way. If you're cooking duck breast its comparatively high fat content can be reduced by removing the skin, and the layer of fat that sits beneath it, before cooking.
Mallard en croute
This recipe requires a little skill and effort, but the results are well worth it.
1 wild mallard
½ savoy cabbage, finely chopped
½ onion, thickly sliced
50g/2oz bacon lardons, thickly cut
½ garlic clove, crushed
1 large ball of crepinette (small flat sausages wrapped in caul fat; available from specialist Continental grocers)
250g/9oz sliced pancetta
2 sheets ready-rolled puff pastry
2 free-range egg yolks, beaten
Knob of butter
250g/9oz mixed wild mushrooms
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
Remove the legs and two breasts from the mallard, then carefully remove the skin.
Remove the thigh bone (leaving on the front bone). Whilst trying to keep it whole, trim the duck bone until it is clean .
Blanch the cabbage in boiling water for 2-3 minutes, then drain.
Fry the bacon lardons in a frying pan for 1-2 minutes, then add the onion and cook for a further minute.
Add the cabbage and garlic and cook for 4-5 minutes.
Lay out half of the crépinette on a flat work surface, then layer the pancetta over the top. Place the duck breast in the middle, then add a heaped spoonful of the cabbage and top with the leg.
Roll the crepinette around the duck, leaving the bone from the leg coming out of the side.
Place the mallard onto a sheet of puff pastry and carefully roll it up until completely covered, but still allowing the bone to come out of the side.
Place the parcel onto a baking tray and brush with the egg yolks. Repeat with the remaining crepinette and duck breast and leg.
Bake in the oven for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to rest for 10 minutes.
Heat a frying pan until hot, add the butter and wild mushrooms and fry for 2-3 minutes, or until just cooked.
Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
To serve, place the mallard en croute onto serving plates and spoon the mushrooms alongside.