Sometimes, dinner comes together so perfectly you can’t imagine why you haven’t done it before. It did so this week, when crisp-skinned duck legs shared a plate with plump ivory beans and pink, pickled onions as sharp as a surgeon’s knife. Crisp yet soft, sweet yet teasingly sharp, this was a meal, both frugal and luxurious, where everything seemed in perfect harmony.
The cannellini beans, cooked from dried, plumped up to the size of sugared almonds in a simple stock with shallot, celery and bay leaves. Drained, we then baked them in the same roasting tin as the duck and its fat, the dish moistened with a ladle of the beans’ milky, aromatic cooking liquor. The beans, their insides swollen with stock and fat, crisped a little in the roasting tin.
Nudging against the duck was the fresh, acid-sweet pickle of carrots, red onion and watermelon radish (I could have used mooli or even French breakfast radish). We mopped up the juice from our plates – a tantalising puddle of warm duck fat, cider vinegar, rosemary and salt – with winter leaves of deep red and mottled pink, that we had crisped in iced water before dressing them with a mustard vinaigrette.