I bought four duck legs last week 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 Broglie, Princess de Broglie, and decided to give it a try. Her cookbook, The Cuisine of Normandy, 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.
Since we are nearing the end of the year I thought I would share it with you as it is a good candidate for New Year's Eve. It is simple and easy enough to put together wherever you are spending the holiday and definitely up a notch or two to make it special. You can accompany with wild rice and a vegetable like roasted Brussels sprouts.
I have substituted duck legs for duck breast this time, but feel free to use either. It's a great recipe and quite different from the way I usually serve duck. This New Year's Eve, I am going to save the orange sauce for Crepes Suzette!
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
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.
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 left over which can be used in a salad or as an addition to beans.