Braised Duck Legs with Leeks and Green Olives

This especially satisfying one-pot dish is delicious served with soft polenta, mashed potatoes, or shell beans. Good choices for the green olives include unpitted Lucques or Picholines.–Alice Waters

LC Ingrediens of Import Note

With simple braises such as this, each ingredient is an ingredient of import, er, importance. Opt only for the best-quality duck, olives, wine, and stock. You’ll taste the difference. For more on ingredients of import, see the variations beneath the recipe.

Braised Duck Legs with Leeks and Green Olives Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 45 M
  • 2 H, 45 M
  • Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 4 duck legs (drumsticks and thighs attached)
  • Salt to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 leeks (white and pale green parts only), rinsed and coarsely chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 6 thyme sprigs, leaves only
  • 6 parsley sprigs, leaves only
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup green olives
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 1/2 cups homemade chicken stock or canned chicken broth
  • 1 strip lemon zest

Directions

  • 1. Several hours or even the night before you intend to sit down to dinner, trim the excess fat from the duck legs and reserve for another use or discard. Season the duck legs with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for at least a few hours.
  • 2. Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C).
  • 3. In an ovenproof skillet just large enough to hold the duck legs comfortably, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the leeks and carrot and cook for 3 minutes. Stir in the thyme, parsley, bay leaf, green olives, and salt to taste and cook for 3 minutes.
  • 4. Place the duck legs in the skillet, skin side down. Add the wine, chicken stock or broth, and the lemon zest. The liquid should be about 1 inch deep; if it’s not, add more liquid as needed. Raise the heat to medium-high, bring to a simmer, and immediately transfer the skillet to the oven for 30 minutes.
  • 5. After 30 minutes, remove the skillet from the oven and turn the legs skin side up. If necessary, pour off and reserve some of the liquid so that all the duck skin is exposed. Turn the oven down to 325°F (160°C) and continue cooking the duck legs for 1 to 1 1/2 hours more. The duck is done when the skin is browned and the tip of a knife slips easily in and out of the meat.
  • 6. Set the duck legs aside and pour the braising juices and vegetables into a small bowl. Allow the liquid to settle, then skim off and discard the fat that’s risen to the surface. If the cooking juices seem too thin for gravy, strain them into a small saucepan and simmer until reduced to the desired consistency. Taste for salt and correct the seasoning, if needed. Return the vegetables and the braising liquid to the skillet and place the duck legs on top. Return to a gentle simmer and heat for a few minute, just until warmed through. Serve the duck directly from the skillet.

Variations

  • Pitted olives can be substituted, but use fewer, about 1/2 cup, and don’t add them to the braise until the last 15 minutes of cooking.
  • Substitute dry sherry for half the wine.
  • Substitute dried fruit, such as prunes or figs, for the olives. Use red wine instead of white and add a strip of bacon or pancetta to the braise. Omit the lemon zest.
  • Substitute chicken legs for the duck legs. Reduce the cooking time by 30 minutes.
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Testers Choice

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Testers Choice
Helen Doberstein

May 03, 2007

I made this dish in the slow cooker and loved it. I removed all visible fat and skin from the legs. Since I was using my large crock pot I used 8 duck legs instead of 4, laying them across the base of the pot. I used only 3/4 cup chicken broth and 1/2 cup wine. The rest of the ingredients I kept the same. I asked my hubby to turn off the pot after 5 hours, but he forgot and it cooked for 8 1/2 hours until I got home. No real harm done other than the duck was cooked to the point of falling off the bone. I think that at the 5-hour mark it would have been just about perfect and should have been able to hold together. There was still a little fat to skim, but not as much as I'd thought there would be. I used Arbequina olives to finish the dish. The broth was thin, but when the fat had been removed it was very flavorful and I didn't bother to reduce it further. This was enjoyed all of us, even the one that dislikes poultry. This is definitely a real keeper in my book.

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