Try Cooking THIS for Christmas

/SLASH/'s 4 days of Christmas (day 1)

By guest writer Fenne Bagust from the Sleeping Lasagnas


Wanting to try and cook something new for Christmas from a middle eastern culture, I stumbled upon a delicious Syrian recipe: roast duck with cashew nut stuffing. The name alone had me drooling. It’s not only very original, it is also a perfect Christmas dish, as it involves a large stuffed animal.  Follow this recipe to have a go at it!


You need the following ingredients, all of which you can find at the farmers market.


  • ½ cup unsalted cashew nuts

  • A 4½ -to 5-pound duck (you can get one at the market)

  • 3½ teaspoons salt

  • 1½ cups bread cubes made from homemade-type white bread, trimmed of all crusts, and cut into ½ -inch dice

  • 2 hard-cooked eggs, shelled and cut lengthwise into quarters

  • 1 tablespoon seedless raisins

  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)

  • 1 tablespoon sugar

  • 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar

  • 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

  • ½ teaspoon cardamom seeds

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin

  • ½ teaspoon anise seeds

  • 150 grams of finely chopped onions

  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic

  • A 1-inch piece of scraped, fresh ginger root, cut into paper-thin slivers

  • ½ teaspoon turmeric

  • 150 grams of chopped fresh tomatoes

  • 1 fresh hot green chili, about 3 inches long, washed and cut into ½ -inch rounds with the seeds intact

  • ½ teaspoon ground hot red pepper

  • 2 tablespoons melted butter

How to cook

1. Drop the cashews into a small bowl or pan, pour in 2 cups of boiling water, and soak them for at least 15 minutes. Wash the duck under cold running water and pat it completely dry inside and out with paper towels. Rub both the breast and neck cavity and the skin with 2 teaspoons of the salt and set the duck aside.

2. Combine the bread, eggs, raisins, coriander, sugar, vinegar and black pepper in a deep bowl, and toss them about gently with a spoon until they are well mixed. Pulverize the cardamom seeds with a mortar and pestle or drop them into a bowl and crush them fine with the back of a spoon.

3. In a heavy 10- to 12-inch skillet, heat the vegetable oil over moderate heat until a light haze forms above. Stir in the cumin, anise seeds, onions, garlic, ginger and 1 teaspoon of salt and, stirring frequently, fry for 7 or 8 minutes, until the onions are soft and golden brown. Watch carefully for any signs of burning and regulate the heat accordingly.

4. Stirring well after each addition, add the turmeric, cardamom, tomatoes and green chili. Cook the mixture over moderate heat, stirring constantly, for about 3 minutes.

5. With a rubber spatula, scrape the entire contents of the skillet over the bread-and-egg mixture and turn them about gently with the spatula or a spoon until they are thoroughly combined. Preheat the oven to 230°C. Drain the cashews in a sieve or colander and chop them fine.

6. Stir the nuts and red pepper into the bread mixture. With a trussing needle or small skewer, gently prick the skin of the duck at about 1-inch intervals all over its surfaces. Spoon the nut-stuffing mixture loosely into the breast and neck cavities, and sew the openings securely with heavy thread.

7. Truss the bird securely and place it on its side on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. Roast in the middle of the oven for 10 minutes, then turn the duck on its other side and roast 10 minutes longer. Reduce the heat to 350°C, turn the duck breast side up and roast for about 1 hour and 40 minutes, basting the bird occasionally with the butter

8. To test the bird for doneness, pierce the thigh of the duck with the point of a small, sharp knife. The juice that trickles out should be a clear yellow; if the juice is still slightly tinged with pink, continue roasting the bird for another 5 to 10 minutes.

9. Transfer the duck to a heated platter and let it rest for about 10 minutes for easier carving.

Totally worth it

It was definitely not the easiest dish to prepare, but the perfect medium rare duck meat that I had somehow managed to conjure, after endless amounts of chopping, stuffing and prodding, was absolutely worth it. Not only had I managed to make a delicious dish, it actually looked gorgeous.


P.S. If you’re inspired to do some cooking, you’ve got till 12:00 AM today to sign up for the legendary annual Ugly Christmas Sweater Dinner.


Do you like writing and want to share it (anonymously or credited) with the UCG community? Feel free to send us your work at slash@caerus-ucg.com, or just approach any of us in person.

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