What to do with my legs?!

Happy New Year!!

Duck legs that is!!

I purchased a nice English duck so that I could cook the breasts for a special meal as it is my wife’s favourite choice for a Sunday roast. I always try and find something good to do with the legs and any other “spare” bits that come free with it. I try to acquire as much fat from the bird as I can for wonderful roast potatoes, mmmm.

What to do with the legs?

The most obvious solution is duck confit, after curing overnight (this entails salting the meat along with spices and some herbs. This is washed off the following day) the leg is then slowly cooked in its own fat until it becomes meltingly tender. And then I was met with the next challenge what to do with the duck confit?

canconfit

Cassoulet, the most French dish one can imagine, is a wonderful tribute to the duck confit. A peasant dish long ago, it has moved up in the world of culinary excesses. The dish is lovely comfort food but I wanted to introduce my granddaughters to the flavours of duck and I believed that dish is a little rich for a first timer to this fowl.

I am subscribed to a website called “Great British Chefs” and discovered a recipe utilising duck leg confit. Also the technique of how to confit duck legs in the traditional manner are included in the recipe. As you, the reader, hopefully are aware I am an avid user and promoter of the cooking technique of sous vide so here is how I “confit” the duck legs.

First take the duck legs and rub a mixture of salt and thyme all over them. Put them into vacuum bags and seal. Leave for a minimum of 6 hours. (12 is best!). Remove from the bags and wash off the cure. Put the legs into new bags (I put a couple of star anise with them) and add a tablespoon of duck fat. Seal and place into preheated 75 °C water bath for a further 12 hours.

Now we move to the dish which the grandchildren demolished with great zeal.

Confit duck leg with penne, spinach and tomato

pasta1

 

The recipe is from Chef Galton Blackistone

Confit duck legs

  • 6 duck legs
  • 1.5l duck fat, or goose fat

Marinade

  • 1 tbsp of sea salt
  • 1 tsp peppercorns, cracked
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • 1 tsp rosemary
  • 1 tsp five-spice powder, Cantonese
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped

Oven-baked tomatoes

  • 12 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 55ml of sunflower oil
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • 1 sprig of fresh thyme
  • 1 tbsp of vinegar
  • 1 pinch of brown sugar
  • salt
  • pepper

Sauce

  • 500ml of dark chicken stock, as needed
  • 2 tbsp of double cream
  • 1 dash of Marsala wine
  • 1 dash of rapeseed oil
  • 75g of girolles, finely sliced
  • 75g of ceps, finely sliced
  • 1 tbsp of tarragon, chopped
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

Penne pasta

  • 600g of penne pasta
  • salt

Sautéed spinach with spring onions (pousse epinard)

  • 50g of salted butter
  • 1 1/4 bunch of spring onions, roughly chopped
  • 525g of baby spinach, washed
  • salt
  • pepper

 

1

To begin, mix all of the marinade ingredients together and rub all over the duck legs. Place in a dish, cover with cling film and place in the fridge to marinate overnight, or for at least 6 hours

  • 1 tbsp of sea salt
  • 1 tsp peppercorns, cracked
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • 1 tsp rosemary
  • 1 tsp five-spice powder, Cantonese
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped
  • 6 duck legs

2

Preheat the oven to 120°C/gas mark 1/2

3

To prepare the tomatoes, mix all of the ingredients together, then spread them evenly over a large baking tray

  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 12 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 55ml of sunflower oil
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • 1 sprig of fresh thyme
  • 1 tbsp of vinegar
  • 1 pinch of brown sugar
  • salt
  • pepper

4

Place in the preheated oven and cook for about 1 hour, by which time the moisture will have evaporated and the tomatoes will have started to dry out a little and intensify in colour. Set aside until ready to prepare the pasta bake

5

After the legs have finished curing, remove from the marinade and carefully dry off with kitchen paper

6

Preheat the oven to 150°C/gas mark 2

7

Heat a dry frying pan until hot, press the duck legs into it skin-side down. Fry until the skin is well coloured, then turn the legs over and quickly brown the other side

8

Place the browned duck legs in a roasting tin large enough to hold them in one layer. Cover completely with the duck or goose fat – it is essential that the legs are fully submerged in the fat

  • 5l duck fat, or goose fat

9

Bring the fat to trembling point on the hob, cover with foil and very carefully place into the preheated oven

10

Slowly cook the duck legs for about 2 hours until tender. You can test this by carefully lifting one out with a slotted spoon – the meat should easily start to fall away when you press it

11

When the legs are cooked, leave to cool in the fat for 20–30 minutes and very carefully remove and set on a trivet or wire rack in a roasting tin to drain. As soon as the duck legs are cool enough to handle, ‘pull’ the meat from the bone and set aside somewhere warm

12

Strain the cooled duck fat through a fine sieve and keep for another dish; it is especially good for roasting potatoes or making more confit

13

To make the sauce, reduce the chicken stock by half before stirring in the cream and Marsala. Set aside

  • 1 dash of Marsala wine
  • 2 tbsp of double cream
  • 500ml of dark chicken stock, as needed

14

When ready to serve the dish, preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6

15

Bring a large pan of lightly salted water to the boil, add the penne and cook for a few minutes less than is indicated on the box – it will finish cooking in the oven. Drain thoroughly

  • salt
  • 600g of penne pasta

16

Meanwhile, finish the sauce. Heat a frying pan over a high heat, add a splash of rapeseed oil and add the mushrooms. Very quickly fry and add these to the sauce, making sure everything is heated right through. Add the chopped tarragon and check the seasoning

  • 75g of girolles, finely sliced
  • 1 dash of rapeseed oil
  • 75g of ceps, finely sliced
  • 1 tbsp of tarragon, chopped
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

17

To make the spinach, heat the saucepan until very hot and add the butter, it should foam immediately. At this point, add the spring onions, then the spinach, and season well. Treat the spinach as if you were stir-frying it and cook until it just starts to wilt. Remove from the heat and serve immediately

  • 525g of baby spinach, washed
  • 50g of salted butter
  • 1 1/4 bunch of spring onions, roughly chopped
  • salt
  • pepper

18

Spread the sautéed spinach over the base of a suitable large serving dish. Combine the ‘pulled’ duck meat with the cooked pasta and the sauce and spread over the top of the spinach

19

Dot the tomatoes over the pasta and place in the preheated oven, cooking until everything is heated right through. Serve immediately

bonappetit