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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. As in, importance. Opt only for the best-quality duck, olives, wine, and stock. You’ll taste the difference.

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 store-bought chicken broth
  • 1 strip lemon zest

Directions

  • 1. Several hours or even the night before you intend to eat, 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.
  • 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 more 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; add more liquid if 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. If the sauce seems too thin, strain the braising liquid into a small saucepan and simmer until it’s 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.

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 piece 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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