Wash the thyme stalks in hot water for 20 seconds. When cool enough to handle, strip the leaves off the stalk. In a food processor, whizz the thyme leaves, the cumin seeds and orange zest together with the butter. Lay out a 30cm square piece of greaseproof paper on a work surface and scoop the butter on to the middle. Roll one edge up over the butter as if you were trying to fold the paper in half, and with your hands shape the butter into a cylinder shape as best you can. Wrap the butter up in the paper, twist the ends so the package looks like a Christmas cracker and place in the fridge to set.
Steam the carrots for 10 minutes and, once cooked, toss in a warm bowl with some slices of the thyme, cumin and orange butter.
at 10:35 AM
Place the duck legs in a sandwich bag with the soy sauce, five-spice, star anise, cinnamon stick and olive oil and let them marinate for a minimum of 2 hours. To really get the flavours going, you could keep this in your fridge to marinate for up to 2 days. Then get yourself a pan, casserole or high-sided roasting tray that snugly fits the duck legs. Place the chillies, plums and sugar in the bottom of the tray and then pour the marinade from the bag over the top. Mix it all up using your fingers, and place the duck legs on top.
Place the tray in a preheated oven at 170°C/325°F/gas 3 for 2 to 2½ hours until the meat falls away from the bone. Remove the star anise and cinnamon stick, then taste the sauce to see if it needs to be seasoned with a little more soy sauce. It’s now down to you how you would like to serve it. You could have it as a starter with some of the little Chinese pancakes that you can buy, or served simply with rice or noodles and the chunky, jammy plum sauce that the duck has cooked in.
at 10:29 AM