This recipe was created by Claire for Sam Neill: "As soon as I read Sam’s vivid food memory I knew I'd have to cook a duck recipe in honour of his late father Dermot Neill. That meal in Paris, indulging their shared love of good food and wine for what turned out to be their last great dinner together, is such a heart-warming recollection. Duck is a rich meat that cooks to a melting tenderness and works well with many seasonal fruits. I served it here over a slice of potato gratin with green beans and toasted almonds."
4 whole duck legs
sea salt and ground pepper
2 teaspoons olive oil
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
6 apricots, halved, stoned
½ cup good-quality chicken stock
1 tablespoon butter
Preheat the oven to 180°C fan bake.
Season the flesh side of the duck with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large ovenproof sauté pan over medium heat and add the duck, skin side down. Cook until the skin is golden. Turn skin side up, brush with 1 tablespoon of honey, season with salt and pepper then cover and roast for 30 minutes. Uncover and cook for a further 15 minutes, or until very tender. Transfer the duck to a plate and cover to keep warm.
Pour most of the fat out of the pan, leaving any sticky bits behind. Add the vinegar and the remaining honey and let it bubble up. Add the apricots cut side down then add the stock. Simmer for about 8 minutes, occasionally spooning the pan juices over the apricots until they’re tender but not collapsing. Gently whisk in the butter a little piece at a time, to make a glossy sauce. Season with salt and pepper if needed.
To serve: Place the duck legs on serving plates with your vegetables of choice. Add the apricots and spoon over the pan sauce.