Sometimes I write these entries and I think, is anyone besides Meredith and my dad really reading this? And then, every once in a while, the answer is a resounding "yes." It's nice to know that I am not sending these posts out into nothing. So, thank you.
Last weekend, Zack's mom and stepdad visited us, which was awesome (if you scroll back a post or two, there's a nice picture of them). We invited them over for dinner and I made them Duck Legs and Carrots, from The Gourmet Cookbook (which may be my favorite cookbook of all time). They really liked it and so I promised to post the recipe so that they could make it at home.
Warning - I forgot to take many pictures of this dish and then we ate it really fast before I got a final picture. So it's going to be a little picture-lite (but flavor-heavy).
Duck Legs and Carrots
2 medium leeks (white and pale green parts only), chopped
6 duck legs (I used four. Duck is expensive)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 medium white onion, halved and thinly sliced
8 garlic cloves, peeled
14 medium carrots cut into 1/2 inch thick slices
3 flat leaf parsley sprigs
1 (4 inch) fresh rosemary sprig
2 Turkish bay leaves
1 (3-4 inch long) jalapeno chile
about 6 cups Chicken Stock (I used waaaay less than this. Maybe 2-3 cups and it was more than enough).
Put a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat your oven to 400 degrees (if you have my oven, there is no guarantee that setting it to 400 will equal 400 and so you have to guess high. I need an oven thermometer).
Wash your leeks and drain them well. As Julie Powell says, leeks are muddy little suckers.
Rinse duck (I did not do that) and trim visible fat. Sprinkle duck legs with slat and pepper. Chop the fat that you trimmed and and melt it in a skillet. Pour off all but 1.5 Tbs of fat and save it (I poured it into a plastic container and Zack yelled at me for pouring something hot into something plastic and complained about how we were probably going to die from eating plastic molecules now).
Increase the heat to moderately high and heat fat until hot but not smoking. Brown half your duck legs, skin side down. Make sure it gets nice and brown, take about 5 minutes. Then flip them and cook the other side for about 3 more minutes until it's brown too. Put them aside and do the same thing for your other duck legs.
Drain the fat again. Ducks have so much fat (and it's delicious). Save two Tbs and add the leeks, onions and garlic to the skillet. Cook until soft (about 3-4 min). Add the carrots and cook for three minutes. Season with salt and pepper and then spread all the veggies in a large roasting pan.
Make a fancy little herb bundle by tying your herbs together with kitchen string. If you don't have kitchen string, sometimes I like to use non-flavored dental floss (non waxed, ideally). This is so you can discard the herbs easily at the end. Put the herb bundle in with the veggies. Add the jalapeno now too (you don't chop it or anything - just put it in whole and then worry that Zack will not like it because he can't ever eat spicy things). Nestle the ducks legs skin side up in vegetables and add just enough stock so that most of the leg is submerged, but not the skin.
Bake uncovered until the meat is tender and the skin is crisp. The book says it'll take one and half to one and three quarter hours, but I cooked mine way longer because I wanted the broth to evaporate more and it took a long time. Maybe if your oven actually gets to 400 degrees, it will not take as long for you.
Discard the herb bundle (and the jalapeno if you want - I threw it away before Zack saw it and hoped he wouldn't notice). It was so so so so good. The carrots had so much flavor from being roasted with the duck and the skin was nice and crisp, but the meat was tender and moist. The only problem was that everybody liked it so much that we didn't have leftovers (or any pictures. Whoops).