Sunday, January 22, 2006

Supper Club Recipe (France). Now the recipes are starting to circulate from our fabulous chefs for the delights of the evening. Let's start with Paul's Recipe. Paul traveled all the way from Massachusetts for the event. I'm not particularly fond of duck, but this was GREAT. Not fatty!


4 large Moulard duck legs, including thighs (about 12 ounces each)


1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon allspice berries


1/2 cup (3 ounces) dried Bing cherries (with 1 cup chicken stock, homemade
1 cup tawny port
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
1 bay leaf

1. Trimming the duck-the day before: Trim the duck legs of as much excess fat as you can without cutting into the skin or the meat. If you've never trimmed duck legs before, proceed slowly to avoid trimming off the skin with the fat. Unlike chicken, duck skin and fat can be hard to distinguish. After removing a maximum of fat, trim off any loose flaps of skin as well. Depending on the duck, there may be as much as 4 ounces of fat to trim off each leg. Collect the fat to render at another time and use it for sauteing potatoes or other vegetables, or discard.

2. The spice rub: In a small mortar or spice grinder; combine the coriander, black pepper- corns, and allspice and grind to a coarse powder. Add the thyme and salt and mix. Sprinkle this spice mixture all over the duck legs and rub so the seasonings adhere. Arrange the duck legs in a single layer in a baking dish, cover with plastic, and refrigerate overnight.

3. Plumping the cherries-the day before: In a small bowl, pour the port over the cherries. Set aside to plump overnight.

4. Heat the oven to 325 degrees.

5. Browning the duck: Pat the surface of the duck dry using paper towels, being careful not to wipe off the spices. Heat a large heavy skillet (10- to 12-inch) over medium-high heat: If you have a cast-iron skillet, this is a good place to use it. Because it holds heat so well, it sears the duck legs without having the skin stick or tear. If you don't have cast iron, choose the heaviest skillet you have. Don't worry that there's no fat in the pan; the duck legs will quickly throw off enough to get things sizzling. When the skillet is hot but not scorching, add as many duck pieces skin-side down as will fit without crowding. Sear the duck, without disturbing, until the skin is crisp and taut, about 7 minutes. Lift one edge with tongs to peek to see that the skin is crisp before turning. Panfry the other side just until spots of brown appear, another 3 to 4 minutes.

Transfer the duck to a shallow braising pan (4- to 5-quart). Pour off all the excess fat and repeat with the remaining duck legs. Pour off the fat, this time reserving 2 teaspoons in a small jar or ramekin. and remove any black specks from the skillet with a damp paper towel. Don't dean away any tasty cooked- on browned bits that will later add depth of flavor to the braising liquid.

6. The aromatics and braising liquid: Return the skillet to medium heat, add the
reserved 2 teaspoons duck fat and the shallot, and saute until the shallot begins to soften, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the cherries and their soaking liquid, increase the heat to medium-high, and simmer to reduce the liquid by half, about 5 minutes. Add the bay leaf and stock and reduce again by half, another 8 minutes.

7. The braise: Pour the reduced port-stock mixture over the duck legs. Cover with parchment paper, pressing down on the paper so it nearly touches the duck and extends over the sides of the pan by about an inch. Cover with a tight lid. Slide into the middle of the oven to braise at a gentle simmer. Lift the lid of the braising pan during the first 30 minutes to check that the liquid isn't simmering too forcefully. If it is, lower the oven temperature 10 or 15 degrees. After 1 hour, turn the duck legs with tongs. Continue braising gently until the duck is fork-tender and pulling away from the bone, another hour or so (about 2 hours total).

Remove the duck from the oven, and, with tongs, arrange the legs skin side up in a single layer on a half sheet pan or broiler pan. Cover loosely with foil to keep warm. Increase the oven heat to 475 degrees.

8. Degreasing the sauce: Duck legs release a substantial amount of fat when braised,
and if you own a gravy separator, this is a good opportunity to bring it out. Pour the brais- ing liquid into the separator, and then pour the liquid into a medium saucepan (2-quart), .leaving the clear fat behind. If you don't have a gravy separator, pour the braising liquid into the saucepan and skim the surface fat with a wide metal spoon.

9. Reducing the sauce: Set the saucepan over medium-high heat and simmer rapidly
until reduced to a syrupy sauce, about 3 minutes. Taste for salt and pepper, and lower the heat below a simmer to keep warm.

10. Meanwhile, crisp the duck: Once the oven has preheated, remove the foil and slide the pan of duck legs onto a rack in the middle or upper part of the oven and roast until the skin on top is crispy and sizzling, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to warm plates or a handsome serving platter.

11. Serving: Spoon the dried cherry and port sauce over the top of the duck. Serve.


Curtis said...

If you're going to gank a recipe, at least give credit for it. This is copied verbatim from the best cookbook ever: "All About Braising" by Molly Stevens. I am giving copies to 3 friends/relatives for Christmas; the book is that good. Go out and buy a copy as penance; you won't be sorry.

I found this post because I want to make this for my wife for New Year's Eve dinner. Now if I could only find Moulard duck legs somewhere near San Jose...

Anna Haight said...

I did give credit to who I believed was the recipe's author. I was given this recipe from the chef featured in the post, and after receiving your comment, I went back through nearly two years of correspondence to be sure that I didn't make a mistake. He sent it to me as 'his' recipe, with no mention of any other source. I've never heard of the cookbook you mention. I have no reason to doubt what you say about the origin since you have the cookbook, and given how good this dish was (I can still remember it after nearly 2 years) that is reason enough to buy the cookbook. Hope your New Year's Eve dinner turns out wonderful!

Curtis said...

Thank you, Anna. I didn't mean to cause great angst.

FYI, the recipe is truly verbatim, word-for-word from Molly Stevens' book, and I just verified that she does not credit anyone else for the recipe. While it is quite possible that she acquired it (with or without permission) from your chef friend, I would doubt it, as she is very conscientious throughout the book about not only crediting for recipes (example: "...this recipe comes from a good friend, Randall Price..."), but even giving credit to others for individual cooking techniques. For example:

"The technique of including the chicken liver in the braise and then mashing it up to add to the finished sauce comes from Paula Wolfert's venerable cookbook 'Couscous and Other Good Food from Morocco.'"

Do buy the book, for its own sake. Even good old chicken becomes a savory moist delight with green olives and preserved lemons, or when stuffed with pears and rosemary.

All the best to you and yours.

Anna Haight said...

Hi Curtis, No problem. This post was pretty early in the history of my blog, and the chef may have been pretty casual in his message about the recipe, although I did say I would be publishing it on my blog. I do try to be sure and credit where things come from so this one really took me sideways. But I think via these comments now attached any future person reading it will know the origins. You make my mouth water with that description!