Last week for our family dinner on my mother’s birthday I decided to cook duck. That’s pretty usual for a family celebration but this time I tried a new recipe from a book, published in 1982, on the cooking of south west France that I bought a few weeks ago. The recipe is very easy but you need to think 3 days in advance as it’s cooked 3 times over that period.
- Ingredients (serves 6):
- 6 whole duck legs
- 5-6 large shallots, very finely chopped
- 10 cloves crushed garlic
- 2-3cms piece pancetta cut into very small cubes
- 6 tbsps brandy or Armagnac
- 6 tbsps plain flour
- 1 bottle of a full-bodied red wine
- Bouquet garni of fresh parsley, thyme and 2-3 bay leaves (tied together)
- Pinch of sugar
- Salt and pepper
Three days before you want to eat the duck cut the excess fat off each leg. Keep the fat. Make small cuts in the skin of each leg without cutting the flesh.
Add the reserved fat to a flameproof casserole. Heat it till the fat starts to render (melt). Add the pieces of duck, in batches if necessary, and brown both sides. Pour off the fat. Add 4 tbsps of brandy to the pan and ignite it. After the flames subside remove the duck pieces.
Mix together the shallots and pancetta. Both need to be very finely chopped (do it in a food processor if you like). Add them to the casserole and brown over a moderate heat. Add the garlic after 5 minutes. Sprinkle over the flour and stir in for a minute.
Gradually add all the wine mixing in well each time so the flour absorbs the wine and the mixture isn’t lumpy. Once all the wine has been added let the sauce simmer for a minute then return the duck pieces to the casserole. Add the bouquet garni, sugar and salt and pepper.
Cover with a piece of baking paper and the lid. Place in the oven preheated to 130°C.
Cook for 1 hour. Uncover, cool, replace the cover and place in the fridge overnight.
The next day remove all the fat from the surface and bring the dish up to room temperature. Cover with baking paper and the lid and cook for 1½ hours at 130°C.
Cool uncovered then cover again and refrigerate overnight.
On the third day, repeat the procedure but cook at 120°C for 1½ hours.
Just before serving remove the bouquet garni, add the last 2 tbsps of brandy and adjust the seasoning.
Serve with potato gratin and green vegetables.