Ssam Time! Duck Carnitas Lettuce Wraps

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Ever heard the old saying "When in London, eat tacos?" Yeah, we hadn't either until we encountered Breddos Tacos, a Mexican joint in London's Clerkenwell neighborhood that's gotten rave reviews for its fresh tortillas, hot salsas, wood-grilled meats, seamless Asian inflections and succulent duck carnitas. Their eponymous new cookbook is packed with all their hits, so pick up a copy and fire up the grill. 

This is an awesome dish to serve up at dinner parties or get-togethers as a canapé. By using baby gem lettuce as the tortilla (the Koreans call it ssam), it feels light and healthy, but it always delivers on flavour. The best thing about this recipe is that you can use any leftover duck for grilled cheese sandwiches, nachos and salads.

Reprinted with permission from Breddos Tacos

Ssam Time! Duck Carnitas Lettuce Wraps
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Breddos Tacos, in London's Clerkenwell, has rave reviews for its hot salsas, wood-grilled meats, seamless Asian inflections and succulent duck carnitas.
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  • 4 duck legs
  • 3 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 onion
  • 2 dried chipotle chilies
  • 8 dried plums (use apricots if you can't find plums)
  • 1 head garlic
  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  • 2 whole star anise
  • Scant 1 cup duck fat
  • 1 red onion
  • 2 large habanero chilies
  • Scant 1/2 cup freshly squeezed, strained lime juice
  • 4 Baby Gem lettuces
  • white sesame seeds
  • 2 limes
  1. Cover the duck with the salt and pepper and leave overnight, covered, in the fridge.
  2. The next day, preheat the oven to 300ºF. Put the legs fat (skin) side down into an ovenproof frying pan and cook on medium heat for about 15 minutes. You’re looking to render the fat from the legs and release their juices. Turn the legs over and add the onion, chipotles, dried plums, garlic, peppercorns, anise and duck fat. Cover the pan with foil and put into the oven for 2–2 1/2 hours.
  3. Take the foil off the pan and increase the oven temperature to 400ºF. Cook the duck for a further 15 minutes, then take out of the oven and set aside to rest.
  4. Prepare the pickles by macerating the sliced red onion and habanero in the lime juice. Set aside in the fridge.
  5. In the meantime, prepare the baby gems by snipping off the roots and separating the leaves of the lettuce with your hands – you’ll find they have a natural boat shape, perfect for filling with food.
  6. Shred the meat off the duck legs, making sure to mash the garlic and chipotle into the cooking sauce and incorporating it into the meat. Fill each lettuce cup with a generous helping of duck, followed by a plum from the cooking sauce, some prepared pink pickled onions, sesame seeds and a squirt of lime.
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