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This dish is also excellent served with potatoes roasted in duck fat until they’re golden and crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside.
Preheat the oven to 150°C and prepare the ducks by washing in cold water and pat drying with paper towel. Stuff the cavity of each of the ducks with half an orange, half an onion and 2 sprigs of thyme, and then rub the ducks with Chinese five spice powder. Truss the ducks by tying string around the legs, up and over the winglets then tying down around the neck to push the breast out, set aside.
Heat half the oil in a large frying pan, add the carrot, onion, celery, leek, garlic and a pinch of salt and saute until beginning to colour (4-5 minutes), then spread in the base of a heavy cast iron saucepan large enough to hold the duck in a single layer and set aside.
Heat the remaining oil in the same frying pan, add the duck and brown all over (3-4 minutes), then place over the vegetables in the cast iron pan, skin-side up. Add wine, stock, orange juice, star anise and peppercorns, season to taste with Murray River salt and freshly ground black pepper, cover with a lid, then braise in oven until duck is tender (3 ½ hours).
To make the orange glaze, simmer the orange juice in a small saucepan over medium heat until a thick syrupy consistency is achieved (15-20 minutes), set aside.
To make the fennel and orange salad, place the endive hearts in a salad bowl, then add the fennel and orange segments. Whisk the oil, vinegar and mustard in a separate bowl to emulsify, season to taste with Murray River salt and freshly ground black pepper. Just before serving, drizzle over the salad and scatter with the reserved fennel fronds.
Remove ducks from the braising liquid and cut in half starting either side of the breast bone, gently pull away breast from the rib cage and repeat with the next duck. (Note: if meat doesn’t come away from the bone cook for a little longer). Place duck halves on a roasting tray, skin side up and arrange 3 overlapping orange slices over each, brush with a little orange glaze and cook under a hot grill for 5 minutes. Serve hot with the fennel and orange salad and duck fat potatoes.
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