Friday, November 26, 2010

Braised Duck Legs : Master Recipe

This year for Thanksgiving dinner my main course was braised duck legs over kale, parsnip puree, and curry beurre blanc with a brunoise of honeycrisp apple.  I want to share this duck leg recipe with you because it never fails and it always a crowd-pleaser (unless your crowd doesn't like duck, and then there's nothing I can do for you!).

Braised Duck Legs

Plan on one duck leg per person.

The night before you plan to serve the duck, trim and rub the legs.  Cut off any extra skin and fat (save these bits and render them out; duck fat is precious), then cut a clean line just below the ankle.  This is purely cosmetic; it allows the muscle and skin to retract in a tidy fashion.  If you're feeling very particular, you can then clean the end of the bone completely of skin. 

Next, rub each leg with a bit of salt and whatever flavorings you'd like.  This time I used some freshly ground curry powder, perhaps 1/2 t per leg.  Other good options are ras al hanout or herbs de provence.  It all depends on the flavor profile you're looking for.

Cover and refrigerate until you are ready to bake, then preheat your oven to 400F. 

In a roasting pan or baking dish, lay roughly chopped vegetables (onion, garlic, carrot, parsnip, celery, etc) about 1" thick.  You won't be eating these vegetables, they are purely to perfume the meat so they should mirror the other flavors on the plate. 

Pour in chicken stock until the vegetables are almost submerged, then lay the duck legs, skin side up, in a single layer.  Cover loosely, and place in the oven.  Immediately turn the heat down to 325F.  Allow to braise until fall off the bone tender - about three hours.

Directly before serving, remove warm legs to a broiler pan, and broil just until the skin is crisp.

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