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    Braised duck with beetroot, blackberry and lemon thyme sauce

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    Braised duck with beetroot, blackberry and lemon thyme sauce

    The sauce for this dish is inspired by Georgian charkhali – beetroot dressed in a spicy plum sauce. Lemon thyme adds a lovely floral note, but regular thyme is also good.

    • Preparation time: 10 minutes
    • Cooking time: 1 hour 45 minutes
    • Total time: 1 hour 55 minutes

    Serves: 4


    4 duck legs
    1 tbsp rapeseed oil, plus 1 tsp for frying
    100g raw beetroot
    1 tbsp unsalted butter
    6 garlic cloves
    200g blackberries
    few sprigs lemon thyme, leaves picked
    splash cider or white wine vinegar


    1. Season the duck. Heat the oil in a heavy-based casserole dish over a medium-low heat and brown the duck on all sides until the skin turns golden. Add 100ml water to the pan, cover tightly with a lid and cook over the lowest heat possible for 1 hour-1 hour 30 minutes, until the meat pulls easily off the bone.

    2. Meanwhile, to make the sauce, scrub the beetroot then put it, unpeeled, into a small pan of salted cold water. Bring to the boil, cover and cook for 1 hour until the beetroot is very tender (you may need to top up the water to keep the beetroot covered). Drain and wash under cold water, rubbing off the skin with your hands (wear rubber gloves to prevent staining). Cut the beetroot into chunks.

    3. Put 1 tsp oil in a small frying pan and add the butter. Melt over a low heat then add the whole peeled garlic cloves. Cook gently for a few minutes until they turn light golden and soft. Take care not to burn them (I tilt the pan so the garlic and butter collect in one corner; this helps submerge the cloves fully and cook them faster). Add the blackberries, beetroot, thyme and a splash of vinegar; cook for 5 minutes until the berries start to release their juices and collapse. Transfer the mixture to a blender and blend thoroughly. Season with salt and whizz again. It should taste salty, sweet and sour.

    4. Wipe out the blackberry pan. Strain the blended sauce through a fine-mesh sieve back into the pan. If the sauce is too loose, bring it to a simmer and reduce a little. Taste and, if it’s too earthy, add a little more vinegar and salt. This sauce can be served hot, warm or at room temperature. To serve, either put a little beetroot sauce on each plate and place a duck leg on top or serve the sauce in a bowl to be spooned onto the duck individually. Serve with potato babka  cavolo nero. 

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    This recipe first appeared in Waitrose & Partners Food, October 2019 issue. Download the Waitrose & Partners Food app for the full issue


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