Full Recipe

Duck à la Vanille


Three or four weeks ago I bought a new cook book – PROVENCE to PONDICHERRY  Recipes from France and Faraway – by Tessa Kiros. Tessa starts and ends with her versions of some classic French dishes and in between visits several places around the world colonised by the French. She looks at their influence on the food of those places. Recipes are from Guadeloupe, Vietnam, Pondicherry and La Réunion as well as Provence and Normandy.


There are lots of recipes in the book that I want to try. This week’s recipe is from the book. I’ve changed it a little because I used duck legs instead of cutting up a whole duck and the cooking time was less. I’ll definitely make this again.



4 duck legs

3-4 cms piece fresh peeled ginger cut into chunks

4-5 cloves garlic, peeled and cut into pieces

2 tbps vegetable oil

1 red onion finely chopped

½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg

Sprigs fresh thyme

2 vanilla pods split lengthwise

½ tsp vanilla extract

Salt and freshly ground pepper


Pat the duck dry with paper towels and prick the skin in 3-4 places with the sharp tip of a knife to release the fat when browning. Pound the ginger and garlic to a pulp in a mortar and pestle with a pinch of salt.


Heat 1 tbp oil in a pan and brown the duck on both sides. Set it aside and sprinkle the duck with salt and pepper.


Pour off the fat and heat the rest of oil in the pan. Add the onion and cook till soft. Add the ginger and garlic pulp and cook for a minute or two. Return the duck to the pan, add the vanilla pods, thyme and a cup of water. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Most of the liquid will have evaporated. Take off the lid and let the duck brown some more.


Add ½ cup water, cover and simmer for another 45 minutes or until the duck is starting to pull away from the bone. You’ll may need to add more water from time to time. Stir in the vanilla extract and for the last 10 minutes place the duck in a medium/hot oven to brown. Remove the duck, cover and finish the sauce by adding  a little more water to the pan and simmer for a couple of minutes.


I served the duck with roasted baby potatoes and two different ‘rougails’ – traditional spicy accompaniments which are a bit like salsas. One was tomato based and the other had a green mango as its base. Both included some chilli and red onion as well.