The idea of stewing or braising duck with garden peas as a summertime dish dates back at least to the eighteenth century. In 1769, Elizabeth Raffald gave a recipe for half-roasted duck stewed with “good gravy, a little mint, and three or four sage leaves”; boiled green peas are added as soon as the gravy has thickened. Eliza Acton, seventy-six years later, offers instructions for stewing ducks, then notes that “they may be served with a small portion only of their sauce, laid in a circle, with green peas à la Francaise, heaped high in the center . . .” In her 1879 volume The Cookery Book (later called Margaret Sim’s Cookery), described by a contemporary magazine as being “no unworthy sequel to that of the classical Meg Dodds [sic]”, the Scottish writer Margaret Sim calls for braising the bird “in the usual way” and separately cooking peas with shredded lettuce, green onions, and parsley as a garnish. According to the early twentieth-century restaurant chronicler Lieutenant Colonel Newnham-Davis, Lord Dudley (presumably the thirteenth Baron Dudley, Ferdinando Dudley Henry Lea Smith) considered the dish as one of the possible main courses for a typical British dinner “fit for an emperor,” along with neck of venison and chicken with asparagus. The combination of duck and peas is hardly fashionable today, but the dish is delicious.
Recipe courtesy of cookbook The British Table: A New Look at the Traditional Cooking of England, Scotland, and Wales by Colman Andrews. Click here to purchase your own copy.
- 1 (5- to 6-pound) duck, cut into 4 pieces
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 Tablespoons butter
- 4 shallots, quartered
- 1 (3-ounce) piece thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 2 Cups beef stock, store-bought or homemade
- 6 to 8 large leaves romaine lettuce, julienned
- 4 scallions, chopped
- leaves from 3 or 4 sprigs parsley, chopped
- 2 Cups shelled fresh peas (about 1 1/2 pounds / 700 g in the pod)
- leaves from 6 to 8 sprigs mint, cut into chiffonade
Prick the duck skin all over with a fork, then season it generously on all sides with salt and pepper.
Melt the butter in a Dutch oven or large skillet with a cover over medium heat. Working in batches if necessary, add the duck, skin-side down, and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, or until the skin is lightly browned and some of the fat has rendered. Pour off the fat and butter and reserve for another use.
Add the shallots and bacon to the Dutch oven, then add the stock. Bring the stock to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low, return the duck to the pot, cover, and simmer for about 1 hour, or until the duck is cooked through.
Remove the duck pieces from the Dutch oven and set them aside on a platter, covered loosely with aluminum foil. Add the lettuce, scallions, and parsley to the broth, bring it to a boil over high heat, then add the peas. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 3 minutes, or until the peas are just done.
Drain the peas, reserving the broth. Return the broth to the Dutch oven and cook over high heat, uncovered, for 3 to 4 minutes to reduce it slightly. Return the peas to the pot and stir in the mint.
Divide the peas with some broth evenly between four large warmed plates and arrange a piece of duck on top of each serving. Drizzle any remaining broth over the duck.