I had a pair of duck legs in the freezer, a souvenir of a trip to the Blackheath farmer's market where I slightly over-shopped and came back with more food than possible to consume before it all went bad. Luckily, the cooler nights and longer evenings call for something rich and comforting, something a little bit special. A Saturday night in was the perfect opportunity to cook up a duck feast.
I can't give an exact recipe because I improvised as I went along and forgot to write down my exact measurements. However, nothing was so complicated that it can't be figured out or approximated.
I wanted to cook the duck slowly in the oven, making a sauce in the roasting pan as everything cooked together. Though I would be roasting the bird, I wanted to make sure the skin got crisp and some of the fat drained out (I had other uses for it). I cooked the legs, skin side down, in a medium hot non-stick pan for about 5-10 minutes, until the skin was cooked and I had several tablespoons of fat in the pan.
I then transferred the duck to my baking dish and thought about what I would cook with it. I had some red wine from Friday night, some red onions, and decided I would add in some dried plums (yep, prunes), as they do in France. I poured in about a cup of wine and a cup of water, thinly sliced the red onions, and chopped the handful of prunes in half. I popped the dish into a 350 oven and forgot about it for half an hour.
What to make to go with the duck? With the extra duck fat, roast potatoes would clearly be on the menu. I poured off most of the duck fat in the saute pan and mixed it with some cut up potatoes, and in they went to the oven with the duck. All they needed was to be stirred around once or twice during roasting.
And, of course, we needed some greens. I had a head of savoy/Napa cabbage. This I cooked in the same saute pan as the duck, with the last remaining drops of the duck fat, and 1/4 cup of vegetable stock. I put the lid on the pan and steamed the cabbage for 5 minutes until it turned bright green, then took off the lid and let the little bit of liquid in the bottom evaporate.
Finally, when the duck and potatoes were ready, I took out the duck from the oven, removed it to a covered plate to rest for a few minutes. I poured the liquid from the pan into a fat separator, straining out the onions and prunes, then poured the pure liquid back into the pan with the vegetables and fruit.
A little plating up and we were ready to feast.