When we lived in France one of our favourite easy meals was confit of duck legs with a pile of garlicy sautes and a big green salad. You would find ready prepared confit in every market, either vacuum packed or in jars, or in an emergency in tins from the supermarket where they would invariably be on special offer. Now we are back in Somerset this is not a treat I can get hold of easily but I have found that if I slow roast duck legs for a couple of hours the resulting meat is almost as meltingly tender as confit and the skin is as crisp as shattered glass. Duck legs tend to be much cheaper than breast and to my mind have a better flavour and are much more forgiving to cook. Teamed with a pile of spiced red cabbage, which incidentally can be made a day ahead if this suits you, this makes a perfect weekend supper to share with friends.
New Year, new country…
So after 10 wonderful years living and working in France we shut the doors of our cookschool and chambre d’hote, waved goodbye to our riverside home and at the end of February landed in North Somerset for the start of a new adventure. While waiting to move into our new home we are currently living in a boring-as-bat-shit modern townhouse with just a gravel yard out back barely big enough to swing our little dog Lily(she loves it). After six weeks of this my green fingers are itching so much I just had to grow something, no matter how small, and preferably edible.
Before leaving France I picked up a few packets of salad seeds including Mesclun and wild rocket but I needn’t have bothered as I have found a good selection of mixed leaves in my local garden centre. Mr Fothergill http://www.mr-fothergills.co.uk/?gclid=CJO75pT58MQCFXDLtAodjlwAAA has a good selection and I even found some mizuna seeds in Homebase. So armed with my seeds and a couple of growbags I got planting. Cut out the three windows in each growbag and scatter a different salad variety thinly and evenly in each window. Give it a good water and if it looks like it might turn chilly cover each with an old newspaper to keep them cosy. The brilliant part is that even for the most impatient like me you get almost instant gratification. Within a week healthy shoots started to appear, a thrill every time even for the most experienced gardener. I’m hoping that in another couple of weeks I’ll be harvesting my first crop, and if I keep them well watered should get another couple of crops from the same seeds. While I was in the mood I also dragged a cast iron pot out of the garage and planted it up with herbs to add to my stash. I’ll keep you posted on progress and next time add a recipe to inspire you to get sowing, It;s good to be back.