What do you do when you've been eating mostly beef for nigh on a week and you're in dire need of a change? Why, bring on the duck of course!
We happen to love our duck around here, particularly thighs and legs because they have so much more flavor. A trip to the valley (Corvallis) a while ago and a search of "Market of Choice" yielded a supply of duck appendages for our freezer.
I have a favorite way of cooking them for a crispy skin and moist and tender meat and absolutely love saucing 'em up with fruit but I was out of dried sour cherries, didn't have any figs nor pears either so I did some Internet browsing for a solution and found this recipe to adapt.
Apricots won the draw and darned well too in a sweet sour sauce made from apricot preserves, rice vinegar and fresh thyme. A quick flash in a hot pan to brown and the duck was ready for a slow braise in Marsala wine and chicken stock on a bed of onion, garlic, carrots and celery.
Slathered in sauce and garnished with plump dried apricots, the result was everything it should have been and oh so much more.
Crispy Duck Legs with Apricot Sauce from JBug’s Kitchen Antics adapted from about.com
4 duck legs, trimmed
Salt and coarse ground black pepper
1 large onion, sliced
1 large carrot, peeled and sliced
1 stalk celery, sliced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and bruised
2/3 cup marsala wine
6 sprigs fresh thyme
1-1/2 cups chicken stock
8 to 10 dried apricots
Preheat oven to 350. Season duck legs with salt and pepper. Heat a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium high. Add duck legs and cook, skin side down until well browned. Flip over and cook other side for 2 or 3 minutes. Remove from plate and set aside.
Drain all fat off pan and set aside for a moment to cool slightly. Carefully add marsala wine and cook until wine is reduced by half. Add onion, carrot, celery, garlic and thyme to the pan. Place browned duck on top; add chicken stock and roast, uncovered for 1-1/2 to 2 hours until duck is very tender. Check liquid level during last half of cooking time and add more stock as required. Add apricots during last half hour of cooking. Serve duck with sauce, garnished with apricots. Serves 2 to 4.
1 cup apricot preserves
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
Coarse ground black pepper
Combine preserves, vinegar and water in a small pot and cook over medium heat until simmering. Add thyme leaves and black pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature.