I have found the BEST antidote to a dismal, grey January day. The supper was roast duck legs with a red wine sauce, new potatoes and peas. I gathered up the ingredients from our stores, potatoes, shallots, garlic, herbs and peas.
The recipe is this one and it has some lovely twists like adding quince jelly to the red wine sauce and sprinkling the duck with 5 spice before roasting.
The duck lay on a bed of rosemary, shallots and garlic cloves; I plundered our standard rosemary bush for as many decent sprigs as I could find though wished I had more. The rosemary had been looking rather sorry for itself so last year I had cut it back hard. Whilst new shoots were appearing they weren’t very long.
As the duck roasted the kitchen was filled with the delicious, enveloping scent of rosemary. I think that when you cook with fresh herbs you need generous handfuls not mingy sprigs. My herb growing has always been a bit hit and miss but I’m determined that all will change this year.
First a list of what we will use:
Bay – we’re okay on this as we have 2 standard trees which are overwintering in the polytunnel. Rosemary – the standard is looking a bit sparse but the lovely OH made some cuttings last year. These I’ll pot up into 10l tubs of a very free draining soil.
Thyme; Basil; Tarragon and Lemon Verbena – I always struggle with these so I’ll try growing them in the tunnel this season. I have more success with Coriander; splitting the seed by gently crushing before sowing is a great tip. Finally peppermint and spearmint. The mints tend towards thuggery so I’ll grow them in pots.
Indoors I have started pricking out the chillies into 9cm pots and the early sowing of pea (Meteor) and broad bean (Aqua dulce) have sprouted. Once this cold snap has passed I’ll plant the peas and beans in the tunnel.