Thursday, December 31, 2009
Roasted Duck Legs. With Red Wine and Quince Conserve..and Other Good Stuff
Yeah well, I figured on the last day of the year I could cook the poor guy something other than curried chickpeas or veggie chili. Not that there's anything wrong with curry or chili, mind you.
The duck legs had been sitting in the freezer for a while. Mr. ETB picked them up last summer at the Vietnamese grocery. I stuck them in the freezer and promptly forgot about them. Last week, after dislodging a large package of frozen pumpkin puree, I came across the duck legs. That brings us to the present.
Until I started marinating the legs around two this afternoon, I wasn't really certain what I intended to do with them. Usually, my inspiration comes from what I have lurking in the larder. Cabbage, carrots, apples, wine, some ginger quince conserve...yeah, I could turn that into dinner. I am out of semolina flour, so I made noodles that were in more of the spaetzel territory than pasta. To my mind this translated "Alsace", but it could just as easily gone in a million other geographic/culinary directions. Personally, I just like an excuse to cook cabbage with wine and juniper berries.
So hey, when you de-glaze the pan, keep in mind the wine will sputter. I nearly blinded myself (a few strong words might have been uttered) but once I realised I could still see, I fnished the job and made a really lovely sauce from the crap in the bottom of the roasting pan. That's a technical term-the crap in the bottom of the roasting pan.
I marinated the duck legs for an hour, and they took about another hour to cook. Not too bad, and certainly less work than a whole duck. For five dollars, we got three very large duck legs (and most of the thigh) plus a generous layer of fat which I saved. Oh come on, you didn't think I was going to throw that out, did you? Now that I know how nice they are, I should go buy a few more packages and make a large confit. I wouldn't want to do a whole goose again (that was so incredibly insane, but the goose fat lasted us for over a year) but duck legs would be nice to have preserved in their fat ready to use.
For The Cabbage:
1/2 medium head of green cabbage, finely sliced
3 carrots, matchsticked
1 bunch scallions, chopped
1 large apple, peeled, cored and chopped
3 tablespoons clarified butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon duck fat from the roasting pan (if you have it)
4 whole juniper berries (always count how many you use so you know you have pulled them all before serving)
2 teaspoons caraway seeds
pinch of sugar
Splash of white vermouth or white wine
Heat the butter and oil in a pan. Over medium heat, cook the cabbage, carrot, onion and apple until quite soft. Turn up the heat to high and give it a generous splash of vermouth. This really is a matter of taste, so adjust as you please. Cook until vermouth burns off. Reduce heat to low, add duck fat if you have it and pretty much cook the daylights out of it until it is very, very, soft-about an hour. This will time perfectly with the duck if you are preparing one.
For The Duck Legs:
Marinate 1 hour before cooking with the following:
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon rosemary
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
Cover and turn once at 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 180 degrees C.
Place a rack in a roasting pan. Place the duck legs on the rack and roast for about 50 minutes without basting. When they are nearly done, drain off the duck fat (don't you dare toss that out!) and pour over the following:
1 cup red wine (I used Cabernet because I had it)
1/2 cup ginger/quince conserve
I know, you probably don't have the conserve unless I sent you a jar last year. Gosh, that was a pain in the behind chopping and cooking all that quince. Anyway, in the absence of fancy conserve, use red currant jelly, or apricot jam, or really whatever you like. I don't think it matters. Marmalade is always nice with duck.
So pour that over your duck legs, and return to the oven. Increase the heat to 450 degrees F. for five minutes. Open the door carefully (steam, you know) and baste. Return to the oven for a few more minutes to crisp up slightly. Keep an eye on it.
Remove the duck from the pan and let stand on a baking sheet while you deal with de-glazing the pan. If you have glasses (or shop glasses) it might be a good idea to wear them.
Place the pan directly on the burner and heat it until the crud in the bottom of the pan loosens. Stand back, and add a generous splash of red wine. With a wooden spoon, stir, scrape and dislodge as much of the crud as you can. Strain through a sieve into a bowl or large measuring cup. Grate in 1 or two gingersnaps (if you have them, otherwise just do flour) until thickened to your tastes.
For The Noodles:
3 egg yolks plus 1 whole egg
3 tablespoons water
3/4 teaspoon salt
(about) 3 cups AP flour
Beat the eggs until light. Add water and salt. Beat in 1 cup of the flour with the mixer, and then the rest by hand until you have a stiff dough. Knead well. Wrap and let rest 20 min. Roll out and cut as desired. Dry on racks for about 1 hour. Cook in gently boiling water for fifteen minutes. Drain and serve hot.