I’m proud to announce that duck and waffle, so delicious it has a restaurant named after it, is the latest dish in the Gibson culinary repertoire. It’s a bit fancier than my other specialties (oven chips, sausage sandwiches, eggy bread, etc.) – but, as Carla and I found at School of Wok last week, it’s actually not that difficult.
It is bloody fattening though. I didn’t quite manage to extract the full nutritional information from Duck & Waffle Executive Chef Dan Doherty, but the process behind one of London’s most famous dishes is certainly an eye-opener. Duck is packed in a confit of salt and sugar to cure for hours, before being roasted in the oven in a bath of duck fat, perched atop a fresh waffle, adorned with a glistening duck egg (fried in butter, obviously, because why stop now) and drizzled with copious quantities of mustard maple syrup. “It’s really just a response to humanity’s primal desire to put one thing on top of another thing,” said Dan, causing all the women within a ten foot radius to go weak at the knees.
As Dan D was hosting with Jeremy Pang at the latter’s venerable Covent Garden cooking school, School of Wok, we also learned a few other things of the Asian persuasion. Soy-cured boiled eggs, for instance, are bloody marvelous, and even better when sat atop a bowl of Chinese congee and left to sink in slowly like welly boots in a thick bog. And they’re easy as pie – easier than pie – to make. (I can prove it too – the recipe is below.)
Now, if you look up congee – pronounced ‘con-jee’ – Wikipedia will tell you it’s a kind of Asian gruel, which isn’t really fair. Unless I’ve totally got the wrong end of the stick re gruel, and Oliver Twist was actually asking for more because it’s delicious and nobody can resist a second bowlful if it’s going. I much prefer Jeremy and Dan’s description – “a hug in a bowl” – because it’s more accurate. Hot and nourishing, it’s the Eastern equivalent to chicken soup. You make it by boiling the bejesus out of rice and chucking in whatever you’ve got lying around, like last night’s roast chicken leftovers, and a clutch of herbs and spices.
Throughout the evening we also worked our way through a number of other Asian recipes – including pickled lotus root and coconut custard buns – but when sit-down time came, it was these two main dishes that stole the show. Fortunately, School of Wok graduates get the recipe cards to take home, so I can share their secrets with you. I’ve been stuck at home with meningitis for what feels like months now, and I can attest that the chicken congee is an absolute winner if you are a) very ill or b) very lazy. Or both. The duck and waffle? Serve it at your next grown-up dinner partay. It’ll blow their frickin’ minds.
(If you fancy a run-up, Dan Doherty’s class was sadly a one-off, but School of Wok does oodles of other classes to take your cheffin’ game to the next level. I reviewed the Thai cooking one here. Alternatively, just wing it. If it goes wrong just chuck more maple syrup on it, that’ll sort it out.)
Duck & Waffle’s Crispy Leg Confit, Fried Duck Egg & Belgian Waffle
with Mustard Maple Syrup
- 4 duck legs
- Duck fat to cover
- 4 waffles/pancakes
- 4 duck eggs
- Frying lubricant of choice. D&W uses butter.
- 200ml maple syrup
- 100g of duck cure
To make the duck cure:
- 180 g salt
- 180 g sugar
- 5 g orange zest
- 1 pinch cinnamon
- 1 clove
- 1 star anise
- 5 pink peppercorns
- 20 ml brandy
- 200 ml maple syrup
- 25 g mustard seeds
- 1 inch stick of cinnamon
- 1 sprig of thyme
The night before
1. Mix all duck cure ingredients together and store in an airtight container.
2. Combine all mustard maple ingredients in a pot and bring to the boil. Take off the heat and allow to stand to infuse until cool. Remove the cinnamon and thyme, but leave the seeds inside.
3. Take the duck legs and sprinkle all over with the cure. Put in a container with a lid and leave in the fridge overnight.
On the day
4. The next day, preheat your oven to 140C. Remove the duck legs and brush off the entire cure. The meat should be much firmer now. Place in a pot and cover with duck fat. Put in the oven and cook for approximately 3 hours, until the meat just falls off the bone. Allow to cool in the fat.
5. On the basis that nobody owns a waffle maker in the UK, you’re best off serving your duck on your favourite American pancake recipe. If you don’t have a favourite, try this one.
6. Serve the duck on top of the waffle/pancakes, with the egg on top of the duck, and maple syrup on the
side. PRO TIP: When eating, crack the yolk first, then pour over they syrup, otherwise the syrup tends to slide off the egg. You want TOTAL PENETRATION here, so make sure you stab that yellow sucker right in its smug face.
Leftover Chicken Congee, Ginger, Spring Onion & a Runny Egg
Ingredients (serves 4)
- 100g sushi rice (or any kind is fine)
- 500ml chicken stock
- 100g shredded chicken
- 20g butter
- 2cm piece ginger, finely sliced
- 1 spring onion, thinly sliced
- 25g crushed roasted hazelnuts (optional)
- 2 sprigs coriander (OR LOADS MORE if you’re a coriander fiend like me)
- 30ml soy sauce
- 30ml Sriracha
To make the eggs of dreams:
- 2 eggs, boiled for 5 minutes 50 seconds, refreshed and peeled
- 150ml soy
- 50ml water
- 25ml sherry vinegar
- 1 tbsp. sugar
- After refreshing and peeling the eggs, marinate in a bowl of all the ingredients for up to two hours.
- Wash the rice with running cold water until it turns clear and doesn’t look milky.
- Add the chicken stock to the rice and cook for 25 minutes at a simmer. Top up if necessary.
- When the rice is cooked through, season and stir in the ginger the chicken.
- Let the mixture stand for 5 minutes off the heat. Add a drop of stock or water here if it dries out.
- When ready to serve, stir in the butter until all melted and mixed in.
- Divide between bowls and serve with half a boiled egg on each, and a good pinch of coriander, plus spring onions and crushed hazelnuts.
- Drizzle the Soy and Sriracha sauces to taste.
Author: Emily Gibson
Emily is an urban adventurer, blogger and
glutton foodie on an epic quest to uncover the best things to eat, drink and do in London. She lives in Islington and loves ceviche, cycling and magic shows. Lifelong nemeses include beetroot, beards and wine served in tumblers.