If you're hosting a Christmas dinner party this year, or thinking of preparing a starter before the main feast, why not try this incredible Mallard dish with fried duck egg, leek and pearl barley, developed by Chris Zachwieja and his team at The Boisdale, Belgravia, London. Prepare the duck in one of two ways.

Ingredients for Confit Leg of Mallard Duck

  1. 2 mallards
  2. 16 springs of thyme
  3. 1 head of garlic
  4. 20g of peppercorns
  5. 10g of fennel seeds
  6. 10g of coriander seeds
  7. 200g of course sea slat
  8. 1 cinnamon stick
  9. 4 cloves
  10. 2 star anise
  11. 300ml of duck fat


  1. Prepare the duck by removing the legs, trimming the back bone and removing the wishbone.
  2. Use back bone and some other game bones to cook the stock.
  3. Marinade the legs in the salt and spices (garlic, thyme, peppercorn, fennel seeds, coriander seeds, cinnamon, clove and star anise) for over 24 hours
  4. Remove from salt and spices, wash thoroughly and put legs in the duck fat over night at 82C degrees (fan assisted oven).
  5. In the morning, once cooked, remove the meat from the fat and pick the meat off the bone to serve
A picture of Chris Zachwieja

Chris Zachwieja, Head Chef at The Boisdale, Belgravia, London

Tips on how to cook the perfect Mallard Duck Breast

Marinate the remaining crown meat for over 24 hours with thyme, crushed garlic and whole peppercorns. Sear the crown on a hot searing pan skin side down, flip both breasts on the bone side and put in the oven with thyme and herbs for around 6 minutes at 180-190C degrees and then rest in a warm place for approximately 4 minutes. Separate the breast from the bone using a sharp filleting knife and serve.

A picture of two heads of garlic

Ingredients for Pearl Barley

  1. 250g of pearl barley
  2. 500ml of chicken stock
  3. 4 springs of thyme
  4. 20ml of olive oil
  5. ¼ head of garlic
  6. 3 shallots fine diced
  7. 7g of fine sea salt
  8. 10 turns of black peppercorn mill


  1. In a hot heavy bottom pan, sweat some shallots, thyme and garlic in olive oil until translucent.
  2. Add the pearl barley and toast in the oil.
  3. Add salt and pepper and slowly add chicken stock. Continue feeding the mixture with stock until the pearl barley becomes soft and ready to use.

Slow cooked duck egg

Cook duck egg in a water bath at 63C degrees for 55 minutes, refresh in the ice cold bath and peel (If you don’t have access in to water bath, carefully poach eggs in water with white wine vinegar). Beat the eggs using a flour, egg wash and breadcrumbs mix. Fry in deep oil at 180C for 2 minutes until golden and crispy.

A picture of Baby Leeks

Baby leeks

Wash the leeks carefully to ensure the removal of all traces of sand and dirt. Slice the leeks and fry in shallow oil on the stove until caramelised – this ensures that the leeks stay nice and crispy as well as strengthens the flavour.

Black Trompettes Mushrooms

Simple! Just wash, strip by the head and fry on foaming butter.


We've been working hard to create a free recipe booklet for you to download. Create the perfect festive dinner for the whole family with our range of recipes for Christmas including recipes from staff, friends and chefs who work with Rhug estate. You can download the e-booklet below free of charge.

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