From a very young age, one of Neven's favourite pastimes was to shadow his mother in the kitchen, watching her cook; his pastime soon became ...
6 duck legs
6-7 fresh thyme sprigs
6 star anise
1 garlic clove, sliced
4 tblsp sea salt flakes
1 orange, sliced and pips removed
1 litre (1¾ pints) duck fat (or peanut oil or chicken fat can be used as top-up; see note above)
Honey and ginger sauce, to serve (optional)
Champ, to serve (optional)
For the Cabbage:
1 tsp sesame seeds
Knob of butter
1 tblsp olive oil
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, crushed
175g (6oz) Savoy cabbage, core removed and thinly sliced
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
To marinate the duck legs, place them in a single layer in a shallow non-metallic dish and scatter over the thyme, star anise, garlic and salt. Cover with clingfilm and place in the fridge overnight to allow the flavours to penetrate the duck.
Preheat the oven to 120°C (225°F/gas mark ¼).
Rinse the marinade off the duck legs and pat dry with kitchen paper. Return the duck legs to the dish and scatter the orange slices on top, then pour over the duck fat (if the fat doesn't completely cover the legs, top it up with peanut oil or chicken fat).
Place in the oven and cook very gently for about 4 hours, until the legs are tender and the meat is almost falling off the bone. Remove from the heat and leave to cool in the fat. This can be made 2-3 days before serving and stored in the fridge.
When ready to serve, preheat the grill to low. Remove the duck confit and orange slices from the fat and brush off any excess. Arrange the duck legs on a grill rack, skin side up. Don't put the rack too close to the grill or the skin will burn. Cook for 10-15 minutes, until the skin is crisp and golden. Cook the orange slices for 3-4 minutes, turning halfway through - they should be just catching colour.
Meanwhile, cook the cabbage. Toast the sesame seeds in a dry frying pan until golden and tip onto a plate. Place the butter and oil in a pan over a high heat. Once the butter is foaming, add the onion and garlic and sauté on a fairly high heat for 2-3 minutes, until lightly coloured, tossing occasionally. Add the cabbage and cook for a further 3-4 minutes, adding 2-3 tablespoons of water if necessary, until just tender but still crunchy. Toss through the toasted sesame seeds, then season to taste and keep warm.
To serve, divide the Savoy cabbage among warmed wide-rimmed serving bowls and arrange the crispy duck confit on top. Place the caramelised orange slices to the side and have a separate warmed dish of the champ, if liked. Drizzle around the honey and ginger sauce to serve, if using.