When we're out for dinner and I see duck on the menu in a restaurant, often it's the breast meat rather than any other part of the bird. If you're lucky enough to see legs and thighs, it's usually done as a confit and while that's all well and good I'm kind of a sauce person myself. Cooking duck at home certainly solves that problem.
Now while we've been known to roast or rotisserie an entire bird, my preference is to braise the legs and thighs. We've done it here before with great success and this particular recipe adapted from Gourmet Magazine makes for a super crispy outer skin and moist tender succulent meat every time with limited effort on your part.
The recipe can be changed out a number of ways by varying the wine and selecting a different type of dried fruit. Last night's version included dry marsala rather than red wine and dried sour cherries rather than the mix of fruit we had last time. Combined with loads of whole garlic cloves and fresh thyme, it makes for a fabulous rich and flavorful dish.
As you can see, we perched the tender legs on top of a bed of mashed potatoes and parsnip and served the whole thing with pan roasted brussel sprouts cooked in a touch of duck fat. It was kind of a prelude to autumn and heaven knows we're looking forward to that! Just so you know, there wasn't a lot of talkin' going on during dinner but there sure were two very happy people.
For other glorious duck combinations, hit the links and check out some of these beauties. They may look a trifle similar, but believe me the taste is quite different.
Braised Duck Legs with Marsala and Dried Sour Cherries (adapted from Gourmet Magazine)
6 whole duck legs, thighs attached (approximately 4.5) pounds of meat
Salt and course ground black pepper
2/3 cup dry marsala wine
2 heads garlic, cloves separated, peeled and left whole
8 fresh thyme sprigs
1-1/4 cups dried sour cherries
5 cups chicken broth (or more as needed)
2 to 3 tablespoons marsala wine mixed with
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Salt and pepper as required
Wash and dry duck legs well, trimming any excess fat away. Season well with salt and pepper. Heat heavy Dutch oven over medium high, add duck legs skin side down and brown in a single layer until skin is golden colored. Remove fat from pot as it accumulates and save for another use. Turn legs over and cook until browned on the other side, then transfer to a plate.
Preheat oven to 350. Remove fat from Dutch oven and return pot to heat. Add marsala and stir bottom of pot to loosen any browned bits. Cook until wine is reduced to syrup, and then add garlic, thyme and half of the dried cherries. Return reserved duck legs and any accumulated juices to the pot, arranging duck in a single layer with skin side up. Add chicken stock and bring pot to a simmer. Place pot in oven, uncovered and cook for 2 hours or until duck is very tender. Check liquid level during last half hour of cooking and add more as necessary – as long as the pot isn’t dry.
Remove duck legs and place on a platter. Skim any additional accumulated fat from Dutch Oven – (I placed a layer of paper towels on top of the pot to blot up the fat, then very quickly and carefully removed it with tongs), leaving as much of the braising liquid as possible. Remove thyme branches from pot using tongs. Over low heat, add cornstarch/marsala mixture to the pot and cook until sauce is clear and glossy. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed. Serve duck legs over mashed potatoes, noodles or polenta topped with sauce. Serves 4 to 6
A year ago - Country Terrine
Two year's ago - Pork Katsu with Soba Noodles