Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Roast Duck Legs With Honey, Vinegar And Caramelized Apples

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I bought four duck legs with the best intentions of turning them into duck confit for pates and cassoulets in the future;  but I got lazy and decided instead to roast them and serve them with a sauce.  After glancing through a few cookbooks I came upon this recipe from Marie Blanche de Brouglie, Princess de Brouglie, and decided to give it a try.  Her cookbook, The Cuisine of Normandy, unfortunately, is out of print but I promise to post more of her fabulous recipes at a later date.. The original recipe is for Magrets de Canard Saint-Wandrille,  the latter being a Benedictine monastery founded by Count Wandrille in 649. 

I have substituted duck legs for duck breast, so feel free to use either.  The recipe has three parts, all of them terribly easy.  The first is making the sauce, then searing and roasting the duck and finally caramelizing the apples.  With all due to respect to Princess de Brouglie, after making the recipe, I think it makes more sense to do the apples first, then the sauce and finally roasting the duck, so this is what I would suggest for next time.

By the way, this is a strong candidate for this year's New Year's Eve dinner, so plan ahead.

...and, stay tuned, wait 'til you see what we are going to do with the leftover duck!


After searing and before they went into the oven


The sauce


Out of the oven
 Serves 4*

Ingredients

6 duck legs (whole with thighs) or 4 boneless duck breasts
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup cider vinegar
2 Tb honey
2 Cups duck stock or rich brown chicken stock
6 TB butter
4 apples
Lemon juice
1 1/2 cups sugar
about 1/3 cup tap water
3/4 cup ice water

Preheat oven 425.

Season duck with salt and pepper.  In a heavy iron skillet brown the legs or breasts over medium high heat starting with the skin side down to render fat.  The meat should be cooked rare, 3 to 4 minutes on each side.  Remove the duck to a heated plate and cover it with foil to keep warm.

Pour the fat out of the skillet (but save it for later use!) and deglaze pan with the vinegar.  Add the honey and stock and reduce the liquid to about 1 cup.  Whisk the butter into the sauce, a tablespoon at a time. Pour sauce into a bowl and wipe the pan with a paper towel.   You will be using the iron skillet later.

Peel, core and quarter the apples.  Trim the quarters into football shapes and rub them with the lemon juice.

In a saucepan,  combine the sugar with enough tap water to moisten it.  Cook over low heat until it reaches a deep golden color.  Quickly add the ice water, but be careful to stand back from the saucepan as it will spatter.  Add the apples and cook them in this caramel until tender.  (if you don't want to go through this, cook the apples in brown sugar and water...a little Calvados or brandy wouldn't hurt!)

Return duck legs to skillet and roast in the preheated oven for about 10 minutes.  (Her recipe doesn't call for this but I cannot stand rare duck, and roasting crisps up the skin.  You might want to do less time if you are using breasts)

To serve, arrange duck legs, or breasts, on platter, pour sauce over them and surround with caramelized apples.

Note

If you cannot buy individual legs or breasts, cut up a couple of ducks, cook what you want and save the rest for later use.  Don't forget to keep the liver for pate!

I suggest 6 legs for four people as they can sometimes be quite small.  The worst that can happen is you will have one or two for the leftovers I will be posting next!

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