How to Make: duck rillettes & Peckham Pale Ale pickled onions

Launched by best friends Dan Benjamins and Chef John Holland, The Habit opened its second restaurant last year. At the South London Gallery in Camberwell, The Habit’s second site continues to serve seasonally-led menus comprising simple, clean flavours, with a prominent focus on local ingredients. Coffee beans, for instance, are sourced from Peckham roaster Old Spike, meat is sourced from Peckham butchers Flock & Herd, and Nunhead fishmonger FC Soper supplies the restaurant’s fish.

From the evening menu’s ‘For the Table’ section, The Habit’s duck rillettes also champions local ingredients. Here, silver skin onions accompany the rillettes, pickled using Brick Brewery’s Peckham Pale Ale.


For the Rillettes

Duck legs, 2

Sea salt, 10g

Bay leaf

Rosemary, chopped

Orange peel


Star anise

Silver skin onions, 300g

Olive oil

For the pickled baby onions

Silver skin onions, 5

White wine vinegar, 100ml

Sugar, 50g

Brick brewery Peckham pale ale, a bottle


‘Always prepare in advance. However, once made, this will happily sit in the fridge for up to a week.

Start with the lovely duck legs. mix the salt, chopped herbs, garlic and anise in a bowl, then rub mixture in to the duck legs. Leave in the fridge for a few hours, or overnight. You’ll notice that this process will draw some water out of the duck legs.

Preheat the oven to 140c-160c.

Wash the salt content from the duck legs and pat dry with a tea towel.

Place the legs in to a high sided tray or pot, just slightly bigger than your duck legs, cover the duck legs in decent quality oil, add some picked hard herbs, a clove or two of crushed garlic and a little zest from an orange.

Cook for 4-5 hours, checking every 30 minutes to make sure the oil isn’t boiling. This is a slow and low temperature process; ultimately allowing all the muscles in the legs to relax and become tender. The meat should just about fall off the bone.

Once happy with the cooking, allow the meat to cool down almost to room temperature before handling, this is important for the duck meat to retain all of its moisture.

It might be handy to wear some plastic gloves for this part. Remove the legs from the oil and discard all skin, knuckles and bone.

Gently flake the meat with a fork and check the seasoning, which should be pretty on point from the salting process the day before. (For the best flavour, add some of the oil in to the mix when flaking with the fork).

Keep the remaining oil for your Sunday roasties.’

To pickle the onions

‘Peel onions, but don’t remove the root, slice into quarters, then lay in a small sauce pan. Add sugar and vinegar, then bring to the boil. Remove from the heat & pour over half the pale ale (obviously don’t waste the rest, drink it!) These are best to be left for one day before eating and will keep in the fridge for around two weeks.’

Further information on The Habit can be found here.


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