The Blue Ducks in the Country

The Blue Ducks in the Country

The ducks have spread their wings.

After the incredible success of their Bronte cafe, Mark LaBrooy, Darren Robertson and the the rest of the Blue Ducks upped sticks and opened a new restaurant and produce store at The Farm in Byron Bay. Here, they have nurtured and built upon their garden-to-plate ethos to create real food that is locally sourced, reared humanely and supportive of the local community. At The Farm, the Ducks' love for sustainable food is taken to the next level as they cook with the produce that is literally on their doorstep, creating new and exciting dishes while learning the ropes of farm life.

This book is the sum of their adventures. It is filled with the very best recipes that celebrate their love for good food: from simple salads and veggie dishes with bold flavours, to the ultimate barbecue recipes that will have you building your own fire in no time. There are recipes for foraged foods that showcase the true bounty that the Australian land and coast have to offer, while the Ducklings chapter will keep the little ones quiet, even if just for a while. Those with a sweet tooth can indulge in the Ducks' finest cakes and desserts from their sweets cabinet, and you can toast the success of your new culinary creations with some of the most inventive cocktails around.

The Blue Ducks in the Country is accessible, creative and truly makes the very best of the produce available to us.

Darren Robertson and Mark LaBrooy are trained chefs with an impressive list of restaurants on their CV but their biggest love in life is cooking food to share with friends and family and working on the farm together. In more recent years and after the success of two cookbooks, the boys have relocated to Byron Bay where they own a farm café and help run a hobby farm. It is this that will be the focus for their new book.

The Blue Ducks in the Country
Authors: Darren Robertson and Mark LaBrooy
ISBN: 9781925481440
RRP: $39.99

Twice-Cooked Duck with Coconut Rice, Coriander, Greens, Chilli and Ginger

Serves 4

This is a recipe my uncle Nils used to make and serve in his many restaurants. After years of working with him and serving this dish, I think it's time it was shared. The key here is to keep reusing the master stock, as it gets deeper in duck flavour and better with age – just freeze it between uses. The poached ducks are so tender and moist, all you have to do is glaze generously and send them to the oven to get sticky and caramelised.




2 whole ducks (about 1.8–2.2 kg each)
400 g jasmine rice
200 ml coconut cream
2 bunches of bok choy, trimmed
1⁄4 bunch of spring onions, white and green parts, finely sliced
4 long red chillies, julienned
1⁄2 bunch of coriander, leaves picked
juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon fish sauce

Master Stock
80 ml vegetable oil
100 g ginger, roughly chopped
100 g galangal, roughly chopped
1 garlic bulb, peeled
5 long red chillies, roughly chopped
2 lemongrass stalks, white part
only, bruised and chopped
1 bunch of coriander stalks,
150 ml kecap manis
150 ml hoisin sauce
11⁄2 tablespoons fish sauce
11⁄2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons mirin
400 ml coconut milk

100 ml kecap manis
100 ml hoisin sauce
50 g ginger, finely grated
2 tablespoons chilli paste
11⁄2 tablespoons sesame oil


For the master stock, heat the oil in a large stockpot over high heat.
Add the ginger, galangal, garlic, chilli, lemongrass and coriander stalks and fry for a few minutes. Add the kecap manis, hoisin, fish sauce, vinegar and mirin and cook for 5–7 minutes until starting to caramelise. Add the coconut milk, 7 litres of water and the ducks to the pot. Bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer. Put a plate on top of the ducks (they'll want to float to the surface and won't cook evenly) and simmer for a good 3 hours. When ready, the bones will be sticking back through the legs, and they will be very fragile to touch. Carefully lift the ducks out of the stock and rest them on a chopping board to cool down.
Preheat the oven to 200°C fan-forced.
Meanwhile, cook the rice in a rice cooker with about 10 per cent less water than recommended. As soon as it's ready, remove the lid and leave it to steam-dry for 5 minutes, then pour the coconut cream over the rice and stir through. Stand the rice, still uncovered, on the -keep warm' setting until needed. Alternatively, cook the rice in a saucepan according to the packet instructions, then stir through the coconut cream.
To make the glaze, add all the ingredients to a bowl and mix well.
Remove the spines and then quarter the ducks. Coat heavily in the glaze and cook the ducks in a roasting tin until sticky and  caramelised, about 8–12 minutes.
Steam or blanch the bok choy.
Combine the spring onion, chilli, coriander, lemon juice and fish sauce in a small bowl.
To plate up, serve the duck pieces on a platter garnished with the spring onion mixture and serve the rice and greens on the side.

Mud Crab with Watercress, Lime and Morto's Smoked Potato Mayo

This one's another messy and delicious dish. It's eaten with the hands, picking up morsels of cooked crab, dipping them in smoked potato mayo and chowing down with fresh lime and watercress. Mud crabs are found just down the road from where we live, right in the Brunswick River. To catch your own you just need a fishing license, a crab net, a little frozen mullet from the local bait shop and away you go.

The smoked potato mayonnaise is from our head chef Sam Morto. He's the guy running the show every day, along with sous chef Jude Hughes and our amazing team. Smoking the potatoes gives the mayo a seriously delicious flavour, and it can be used in place of plain mayo in most recipes. If you're going to go to the trouble of smoking, I also highly recommend smoking a little bowl of salt while you're at it to use on steaks, seafood or to go in barbecue sauce (see page 197). Cheers, Morto

Serves 6.


3 x 450–650 g live mud crabs, chilled in the freezer until motionless
1 handful of picked watercress
lime wedges, to serve
sourdough bread, to serve

Smoked Potato Mayonnaise
1 sebago potato (you will need 100 g of cooked flesh for this recipe)
1 small handful of smoking chips
2 egg yolks
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
juice of 1⁄2 lemon
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
salt flakes and freshly ground
black pepper
200 ml grapeseed oil



For the smoked potato mayonnaise, cook the potato in boiling salted water until tender, about 20–25 minutes. Drain, then peel by holding the potato in a tea towel and scraping the skin off with a paring knife.
Add the smoking chips to a cast-iron pot or wok with a lid, then place a small cooling rack or the like on top, ensuring it sits clear of the woodchips – you can also elevate a perforated foil barbecue tray on some scrunchedup foil if you don't have a rack that fits. Place the potato on the rack and put the pot over medium–high heat. Once the chips start to smoke, cover the pan and turn the heat down to low. Smoke for about 15 minutes – the pan will be full of smoke and the potato will be a dark golden colour, almost brown, when ready. Remove the potato and set aside to cool.
Add 100 g of the potato along with the egg yolks, mustard, lemon juice, vinegar and a pinch of salt to a food processor and blitz on high. Once the mix is smooth, add the oil in a steady stream while processing. If it gets too thick and you haven't finished adding the oil, add a little water, a splash at a time. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper as needed.
Carefully put the crabs in a large saucepan of boiling water and cook for 1 minute per 100 g, plus 2 minutes – so three 600 g crabs need to be cooked for 8 minutes. Remove from the water and set aside to cool slightly.
Remove the top shells from the crabs. Cut the crabs in half and crack the claws and legs to make the meat easier to get to. Serve the crabs in the middle of the table with the watercress, mayo, lime wedges and sourdough on the side.

The Blue Ducks in the Country
Authors: Darren Robertson and Mark LaBrooy
ISBN: 9781925481440
RRP: $39.99



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