Duck and cover
So I finally tackled the second of my 2011 food resolutions; clearly I’m going to be squashing the other three into the tail end of the year. As I suspected, cooking duck was not especially difficult. In fact the hardest part of the whole shebang was tracking down said duck and then figuring out what to do with it. I did have some cherries which would have made a nice sauce but in the end I settled for a very simple braise which let the duck taste, well, ducky, rather than fruity, accented with a simple but rich sauce (mainly from all the fat which oozes out of the duck during the cooking. It sounds grim but tastes fabulous).
2 duck legs
1 shallot, diced
1 small carrot, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 sprig thyme, leaves only
1 tablespoon tomato puree
100 ml red wine
400ml chicken stock
500g whole broad beans, removed from their pods (roughly 250-300g once podded)
100g green beans, trimmed and halved
3-4 spring onions, white and green parts, chopped
1 tablespoon mint leaves, chiffonaded
1 tablespoon light olive oil
1. Heat a large saucepan until very hot. Season the duck legs with salt and pepper and place, skin side down on the saucepan for 2-3 minutes until the skin is deep brown and crisp. Turn the legs over, cook for another 2-3 minutes on the other side, then remove from the saucepan and set aside briefly.
2. Scoop out all but a teaspoon of fat from the saucepan and discard. Return the saucepan to a medium high heat and add the shallot and carrot. Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until softened, then add the minced garlic, thyme and tomato puree. Cook for a further minute, then pour in the red wine. Stir, to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the saucepan, then return the duck legs to the pan.Cook over a medium-high heat for 7-8 minutes, or until the wine has reduced by about half, then add the chicken stock. It should roughly half cover the duck. Leave the mixture to simmer for 90 minutes, by which time the sauce should have reduced down nicely to about 5 tablespoons of rich, glossy liquid.
3. Meanwhile, pod the broad beans and boil in lightly salted water for 5 minutes. For the last minute, add the green beans. Drain, then mix in the spring onions, mint and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Season well with salt and pepper, toss, then serve onto a plate, with the duck legs and sauce on top.
Serves 2. I paired this with a Beaujolais grand cru, figuring that the fresh cherry flavours in the wine would match the duck well. Although it wasn’t a bad match, the meatiness of the duck did overpower the light, fresh flavours of the gamay slightly; I think next time I would choose a slightly more full-bodied wine though.