Every time I cook duck I wonder why I don’t more often. It is relatively inexpensive, readily available and very versatile. And whether I am roasting a whole duck in the oven, quickly searing a duck breast in a cast iron skillet on the stove top or slowly braising duck hindquarters in red wine I always love the end result. In this recipe we will be braising duck legs with aromatic vegetables and red wine to create a hearty fall dish with great local appeal that will easily impress anyone you may be cooking for.
Before getting started you will need to gather the following ingredients:
4-6 duck hindquarters
1 pound Flathead cherries, pitted
2 carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, rough chopped
3 shallots, sliced thin
1 bay leaf
3 parsley stems
1 bottle red wine
1 liter duck stock, 2 liters chicken stock reduced by half can be used as a substitute
2 cups all purpose flour
4 T. butter
Salt and pepper
First, preheat your oven to 250 degrees F, convection if you have it. Place the flour in a large bowl and season generously with salt and pepper. Add the duck hindquarters and toss to coat. Remove them from the bowl, shaking off any excess flour and place on a baking sheet.
Next, heat half the butter over medium heat in a large oven-safe casserole dish. When the butter has foamed and is just starting to get a bit of color, place the duck skin side down in the pan and start to brown them. Be careful, too much heat will burn the butter and the flour making for a bitter sauce in the end. When the duck has gotten some nice color remove them from the pan and set aside.
Drain the pan of the excess fat and add the remaining 2 T. of butter. When the butter has again reached the brown stage, add the carrot, celery, onion, garlic and shallots. Increase the heat and cook the vegetables until just a bit of color has developed. At this point, place the nicely colored hindquarters back in the casserole, toss with the vegetables and the pour the bottle of wine over the top of everything. Bring the wine to a boil and then simmer until reduced by half. Add the stock and bring back to a boil. Remove from the heat and cover with a tight-fitting lid.
Now, place the dish in the oven on the center rack and cook for two hours. When two hours have passed, remove the casserole from the oven and let it rest for 15 minutes. This will allow some of the juices to return to the duck for added moisture and tenderness.
Once rested, remove the hindquarters from the pan, cover to keep warm and set aside. Carefully strain the cooking liquids into a second pan, add the cherries and reduce by two-thirds or until the sauce lightly coats the back of a spoon. At this point, adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper if needed. This dish can now be served family style with the sauce on the side, but I prefer to plate it with some roasted potatoes and asparagus, with the sauce over and around the duck. Enjoy!
Josh Auerhammer is the chef/owner of Cuinary Design Studio in Bigfork.
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