photo 2

When did you last wash the mud off a potato?

This question struck me today after a trip to the London Farmer’s Market in Marylebone where I went to buy the ingredients for a supper for my nephews and niece and was enticed by the man at The Potato Shop. It seems to me that we have all lost something by buying things from the supermarket and some of that is the connection with the source of our food. Too many children these days don’t even know where their food comes from or how it grows and that makes me sad. Especially when you meet someone like the man from the potato shop stall because he was just so knowledgable about his subject and so passionate about the product. I asked him what would go with my roast duck recipe and instead of just going with the Ratte I suggested, he talked through the benefits of each variety and I plumped for his recommendation of the Mayan Gold.

The Potato Shop stall at Marylebone Farmer's Market

The Potato Shop stall at Marylebone Farmer’s Market

I also managed to get one of my favourite products from the Marylebone Farmer’s Market: a whole Aylesbury duck from Richard Waller. I can’t remember when I heard about this farm and these ducks but I have been making the journey to the market especially for these birds for some years now. They taste fabulous and make a really easy meal when used as the central ingredient for the following recipe from the very clever Sam and Sam Clark Moro cookbook. Now I know I don’t often publish recipes here but since this meal went down so well, I couldn’t resist. My enthusiastic guests almost licked the plate and it was a lovely way to celebrate the night before my oldest nephew went off to university.

Right now quince is also super seasonal and worth buying if simply for their wonderful scent alone. Mind you, membrillo is commonly found in many delis so it can be made all year round. I used the duck fat to roast the potatoes in with an hour to go having been told very explicitly by Mr Potato Man that I must not pre-boil, rather roast for an hour from raw. Served with cavalo nero just vichy’d with garlic and finished with a dessert of home-made lemon polenta cake and creme fraiche, it was a fun meal for us all and hopefully a good last supper for E.L.G.

Pato Asado con Membrillo (Roast Duck with Membrillo)


1 duck, about 2.25 – 2.75 kg with its giblets


1 onion, 1 carrot, 2 bay leaves (preferably fresh), 2 cloves, a few black peppercorns

Membrillo Sauce:

200ml medium Oloroso Sherry, 200ml duck stock, 120g membrillo

Dry the skin of the duck thoroughly with kitchen paper, inside and out, and prick all over with a fork to help release the fat during cooking. Cut off the wing tips for the stock. If possible, leave in a cool, dry place for a few hours to dry further or uncovered in the fridge overnight.

Preheat the oven to 230ºC/450ºF

Rub the duck with a dessertspoon of fine sea salt and lay on a rack in a roasting tray, breast side down. Roast at a high temperature for 15 minutes, then turn over and roast for a further 15 minutes or until the skin is a light mahogany colour and beginning to crisp. Turn the oven down to 180ºC/350ºF and cook for a further 1.5 hours.

Meanwhile make a stock from the giblets and wing tips of the duck, the stock ingredients and enough water to cover by 2cm. Strain and skim off any fat and reduce the stock for half and hour to 200ml.

When the duck is cooked, remove to a board and leave to rest, loosely covered with foil. Pour off 95% of the duck fat from the roasting tray (n.b. which I kept for cooking other things later on) and pour any juice from the cavity of the duck into the tray. Put the roasting tray over a low to medium hear and add the sherry. Simmer for a few minutes to burn off the alcohol, (stirring in all the roast ducky bits on the corners of the pan) then add the duck stock and membrillo. Melt the membrillo and reduce for another few minutes. Season.

Quarter the duck and serve with the warm sauce.