PUBLISHED: 15:36 23 December 2008 | UPDATED: 15:07 28 November 2012
Aside from being fantastic sport, teal is an exceptional bird to eat. The meat is very fine, has a great taste and is covered with beautifully flavoured fat. Teal cooked in top London restaurants fetch money that makes my eyes water so they really are worth plucking and cooking yourself.
I have two ways of cooking teal: confiting or braising, long and slowly at a low temperature; or pan-frying fast, leaving it pink in the middle. As far as confit goes, I rarely go for this much effort unless the results are fantastic, but this recipe is worth it. The jars will keep for about two years so you have teal all year round; it is perfect if you wish to preserve large bags. And an advantage of doing a decent number of teal this way is that you will have easy meals stored in the cupboard for whenever you want them.
• 1 teal (plucked and gutted)
• 1 handful of spring onions
• 1 small turnip
• Salt and pepper to season
• Dash of honey
Peel, top and tail the turnip then cut into pieces about an inch thick at the thickest part. Fry in hot oil until golden – about 10 minutes.
Shred spring onions, sweat over a low heat about four minutes, season with salt and pepper and a touch of honey
Run a knife down the breast-bone of the teal and take off the breast. With care, you can remove the leg in one piece too.
Season the duck and place in a very hot pan, skin side down for two minutes, then one minute on the other side. Plate up and leave in a plate warming oven for 10 minutes. Arrange on dish as pictured and season to taste.
For eight servings
• 8 teal (plucked and gutted)
• 2.5kg goose fat – this comes solid and you then melt it in a warm oven
• Salt to season
• 8 Kilner jars
Place the whole birds in a roasting tin and season well, then cover them in the melted goose fat. Place the roasting tin in the oven for three hours at 120°C/250°F/Gas mark 1⁄2, making sure the birds are completely submerged.
Take the breasts and the legs off each bird and place in a jar. Pour in goose fat until the meat is covered, taking care not to pour in any juice from the bottom. Leave to cool. Store for up to two years.
To serve, warm the jars gently in a low heat oven or on the top of a warm stove to melt the fat. Heat up some of the fat in a pan, and place the teal into the fat, skin side down, to heat up, then add slices of bread to the hot fat. As soon as the bread is nicely toasted and the teal is heated through, serve with some damson jam.