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Aløft

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Brae

Prepare to enter a picture of the countryside framed by note-perfect Australiana but painted in bold, elegant and unsentimental strokes. Over 10 or more courses, Dan Hunter celebrates his region with dishes that are formally daring (Crunchy prawn heads! Creamy oyster soft-serve! Sea urchin and chicory bread pudding!), yet rich in flavour and substance. The menu could benefit from an edit, but the plates are tightly composed - and what could you cut? Certainly not the limpid broth bathing fronds of abalone and calamari, nor the clever arrangement of lobster played off against charred waxy fingerlings under a swatch of milk skin. The adventure is significantly the richer for the cool gloss of the dining room, some of the most engaging service in the nation and wine pairings that roam with an easy-going confidence. Maturing and relaxing without surrendering a drop of its ambition, Brae is more compelling than ever.

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Duck confit croustade


You'll need

30 gm sea salt 6 golden shallots, thinly sliced 6 thyme sprigs, plus 2 tbsp thyme leaves 2 fresh bay leaves ½ tsp black peppercorns 10 duck Marylands 1 each carrot and celery stalk, finely chopped 200 ml verjuice 450 ml veal stock 800 gm duck fat (see note) 3 Granny Smith apples, cut into 1cm dice 2 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley 18 filo pastry sheets 200 ml clarified butter To serve: apple and witlof salad (optional)

Method

  • 01
  • Process salt, 1 golden shallot, 2 thyme sprigs, 1 bay leaf and peppercorns in a small food processor until finely chopped, then rub over 4 duck Marylands, place in a non-reactive container, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate to cure (6-8 hours).
  • 02
  • Meanwhile, preheat oven to 150C. Heat a frying pan over medium heat, add remaining duck skin-side down, cook until browned and fat is rendered (6-8 minutes), then transfer to a roasting pan. Drain excess duck fat from frying pan, add carrot, celery and remaining shallot, stir occasionally until tender (4-5 minutes), add 150ml verjuice, reduce by half (2-3 minutes). Add stock, remaining bay leaf and thyme sprigs, bring to the simmer, pour over duck in roasting pan, cover with foil and braise in oven until meat falls from the bone (3-4 hours). Remove duck from braising liquid, coarsely shred into a bowl (discard skin, bone and sinew). Skim fat from surface of braising liquid, remove herbs (discard), simmer until reduced to a sauce consistency (15-20 minutes), pour over duck and refrigerate until required.
  • 03
  • Preheat oven to 120C. Rinse cured duck, pat dry with absorbent paper, place in a small roasting pan in a single layer. Melt duck fat, pour over duck, cover with foil, cook in oven until meat falls from the bone (6-8 hours). Remove duck from fat, shred meat and add to duck mixture (discard skin, bone and sinew; strain fat and reserve for another use).
  • 04
  • Heat 1 tbsp reserved duck fat in a large frying pan, add apple and stir occasionally until just tender (5-6 minutes), add remaining verjuice, season to taste and simmer until evaporated (1-2 minutes). Add to duck mixture along with parsley and thyme leaves, stir to combine, season to taste.
  • 05
  • Preheat oven to 180C. Lay a filo sheet on a work surface (keep remainder covered with a damp tea towel), brush lightly with clarified butter, top with another filo sheet and repeat until you have six pastry layers, then cut out two 22cm squares, cover with a damp tea towel and repeat with remaining filo and butter until you have six squares.
  • 06
  • Line six 12cm-diameter pie tins with pastry squares, letting pastry overhang sides. Spoon in duck mixture, piling up in centre, then brush pastry edges with clarified butter. Fold in edges to enclose, pleating and twisting to seal, then brush tops with clarified butter. Bake until golden and warmed through (10-15 minutes). Serve hot with an apple and witlof salad.

Note Duck fat is available from select delicatessens.


This recipe is inspired by one in Paula Wolfert's The Cooking of Southwest France. The filo-like pastry, which is typical of the region, reflects the Moorish influence that entered the area in the 8th century. We've used shop-bought filo in place of the painstaking croustade pastry. You could also use shop-bought duck confit if you're short of time. You'll need to begin this recipe 2 days ahead.


At A Glance

  • Serves 6 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 6 people

Drink Suggestion

A bold, gutsy red such as a tannat from Madiran.

Featured in

Jul 2011

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