Mix the peppercorns, bay, shredded
thyme, garlic and salt, then scatter a third
of the salt mix over the base of a ceramic
dish. Add the duck legs, skin-side up,
in a single layer, and scatter over the
remaining salt mix (Step 1, above). Cover
with cling film and chill for at least 24 hrs.
Heat oven to 140C/120C fan/gas 1.
Brush off any undissolved salt mix from
the duck (Step 2). Tip the duck or goose
fat into a large ovenproof pan and melt
completely over a low heat until clear and
just starting to bubble. Turn off the heat
and slip in the duck legs (Step 3) – they
need to be completely submerged, so
top up with oil if required.
Put in the oven and cook for 2 hrs or
until a skewer inserted in the duck meat
goes in really easily (Step 4). Leave the
duck legs to cool in the fat. When cool
enough to handle, lift them back into the
cleaned dish they were salted in. Pour
the fat back over the duck legs (Step 5),
trying to avoid the duck juices at the
bottom of the pan. Cover with cling film
and chill for 12 hrs or up to 2 weeks.
Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. To
make the potato cakes, boil the potatoes
whole until just tender. When cool enough
to handle, peel and coarsely grate. Mix the
potatoes with 1 tbsp of the duck fat, the
parsley and garlic, then season. Divide
the mix into 4 and flatten into patties.
Pull the duck legs out of the fat (Step 6)
and place, skin-side up, in a shallow
ovenproof dish. Roast for 20 mins or until
crisp all over. While the duck is cooking,
heat a bit more of the duck fat in a frying
pan and cook the potato cakes for 5 mins
on each side until golden. Sit the duck on
top of the potato cakes and serve with
a few salad leaves around the plate.