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Poronui recipe series: Orange and Cumin Cured Duck
– Cuisine

“I often hear people say that they stay away from duck as it tends to be dry or overcooked. While duck season has been delayed here in New Zealand, I thought this delicious recipe for Orange and Cumin Cured Duck would be a good way to whet the appetite for what’s to come.”

Orange and Cumin Cured Duck | Serves 4
by Chef Steven Paterson


  • 4 duck breasts, trimmed and fat scored
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 125g table salt
  •  2 whole oranges
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 20 stems of broccolini trimmed
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and diced
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • Salt and pepper


Begin by zesting the two oranges. Toast the cumin seeds until fragrant and grind them into a fine powder. Combine the zest, salt, sugar, and cumin together, which forms your curing mixture.

In a plastic container, sprinkle a little curing mix on the bottom. Toss the duck through the remaining mix, pat each breast to ensure they are well covered. Place the coated duck into the container and cover with any remaining mix, then place in the fridge for around an hour. Don’t worry — we don’t eat all that salt and sugar.

Whilst the duck is curing, place half of the butternut into a pot and cover with water, honey, and a good pinch of salt. You want to cook this on a medium heat until it’s completely soft. It may require a little more water during cooking, but be careful not to add too much.

Once the butternut is cooked, blend this in a food processor until completely smooth and glossy — it should resemble lightly whipped cream. Season to taste. Keep at room temperature if serving shortly. Alternatively, it can be prepared in advance, refrigerated, and reheated later.

The duck is ready when it has a lot of moisture build-up around the salt and turns a much deeper red color. This normally takes an hour or so — you don’t want to leave it in too long as it will become salty and inedible. After you’ve removed the duck, wash it under cold water until all the salt and sugar has gone. Dry as much as possible with kitchen paper and discard the salt mixture.

Preheat your oven to 190°C.

Toss the other half of the butternut in some oil, honey, and seasoning and roast for 18 minutes in a hot oven, or until cooked.

In a low-medium heated pan, place the duck skin side down (no oil required) and cook slowly to allow the fat to render as much as possible. Once colored, flip the duck over to seal the underside. Then place on a tray and into a hot oven for approximately 8-10 minutes to reach medium.

While the duck is resting, cook the broccolini in a hot pan with a little oil. Once it starts to get a little color, add a splash of water and cover with a lid until cooked — this gives it a nice charred flavor and keeps it green. Season well.

To serve, swipe the pureed butternut across the bottom of the plate, add the broccolini and roasted butternut, topped off with some beautifully sliced duck.

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