When I was at the wonderful Moro pop-up at Possessed N1’s Supper Club early this month the main dish was a duck fattee with chickpea pilaf, pomegranates, aubergines and walnuts. A fattee is a Lebanese dish in which pitta bread is toasted and crisped in butter then layered with various toppings, ending with some garlicky yogurt. At Moro they like to serve this duck version around Christmas time because the gorgeous little jewels of pomegranate seeds sprinkled over the dish at the end sparkle in a celebratory way. The recipe is in Moro East and after enjoying it at the supper club – cooked by Sam & Sam Clark in Possessed N1‘s tiny retro kitchen – I was keen to try it out at home.
I made it a week or so before Christmas when Jonathan and Lyndsey came round for supper but didn’t have time to write it up on the blog. However, I was reminded of it when my friend Lesley said she’d made it, using the recipe in Moro East, after I’d raved about it to her and it was a great success. My version is slightly different and isn’t really a ‘fattee’ as I didn’t use the bread in the end. I also roasted duck breasts rather than a whole duck and laid these across the pilaf without layering them and mixing in small pieces of duck. Partly this was because I liked the idea of doing it this way, but it also seemed to make the recipe more accessible for the single diner as I could roast just a single portion of duck. As it happened, I roasted three! It may not have been quite ‘Moro’ style but the essence of the recipe was there and absolutely fabulous.
First of all I trimmed the duck breasts of excess fat and then made slashes in the top through the skin.
Then you mix a dessertspoon of sea salt with 1/4 heaped teaspoon ground cinnamon and rub it into the duck skins. Smear some oil across the bottom of a shallow pan and when the pan is hot lay the duck breasts skin side down in it and cook until nicely browned. Now turn over and transfer into a hot oven, heated to 200C/180 Fan, and roast for 12-15 minutes for rare, 20 mins for well done. I like my duck breast served with the middle still nicely pink. Remove the duck from the pan and allow to rest for at least 10 minutes. Spoon off any excess fat from the pan and then deglaze with the juice of half a large pomegranate. Check seasoning and add salt and black pepper to taste.
Meanwhile, get the pilaf cooking (this makes enough for 4). Heat 75g butter with a cinnamon stick in a pan until the butter foams, then add a medium onion thinly sliced. Fry until the onion is sweet and golden. Add 300g basmati rice which has been soaked for an hour in tepid water and drained. Stir to coat in butter than add a 400g tin of chickpeas drained and 400ml of light chicken stock. Bring to the boil and then lower to a gentle simmer. Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid for about 10 minutes, or until the rice is tender. Leave to rest for 10 minutes before serving.
Dice 1 aubergine into roughly 2cm cubes and fry in 6 tablespoons olive oil until nicely browned. Then make the yogurt topping: Mix 500g Greek yogurt (use Total or other genuine Greek yogurt – not ‘Greek style’) with 6 tablespoons water and 1/2 crushed garlic clove. Break 75g walnuts roughly into pieces. Remove the seeds from 1 large pomegranate (the best way to do this is to hold the half pomegranate cut side down and tap top with a rolling pin till seeds start to fall out. Then you can start to gently pull the seeds away being careful not to let any of the rough pith fall in). Pick the leaves from a medium bunch of flat parsley. Now it’s time to assemble the dish: spoon some pilaf on each plate then some cubes of fried aubergine.
Now slice the duck breasts at an angle, separate the slices slightly and carefully transfer to the top of the rice and aubergine. Drizzle over the juices from the pan, flavoured with the pomegranate juice.
Top with the walnut pieces and spoon over some of the garlicky yogurt (an amount that seems right to you; there was rather a lot in the recipe and I didn’t use it all). Now sprinkle over lots of parsley leaves and the pomegranate seeds.
Doesn’t it look wonderful! You can see why Moro think of it as a festive dish. You don’t need anything else to go with it; it’s a truly great one-plate dish which Sam & Sam Clark describe as ‘a feast on a plate’. We just loved it and it incorporates so many of the flavours I love best: the spicy pilaf, the tender duck, sweet pomegranate and garlicky yogurt. And it’s so good I’m definitely not waiting until next Christmas to make this again!