Lynda says: "Braising is a technique that works particularly well for cuts of meat that would otherwise be tough. Slow-cooking duck legs (or chicken legs) in a broth with vegetables and aromatics makes for a comforting dish that requires nothing other than some mashed potato as an accompaniment. Cabbage is included here, but carrots or baby turnips would also work well. This dish was adapted from a recipe by Alice Waters in her inspiring book Chez Panisse Cooking".
- 4 duck legs and thighs
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1.5 tsp thyme leaves
- 2 large red onions, halved and cut into slices crossways
- 0.25 head of savoy or dutch white cabbage, shredded
- 3 tblsp sherry vinegar, preferably aged
- 450 ml full-bodied poultry, veal or beef stock
- 3 whole tinned tomatoes, quartered
- pomme purée, to serve
For the pomme purée:
- 675 g potatoes
- 80 g butter
- 150 ml milk or a combination of milk and cream
- Using a boning or chopping knife, separate the leg and the thigh into separate pieces. Trim the excess fat from the duck legs, making sure that the skin covers the meat completely. Skin will always shrink back a little during cooking, so allow for this. Season the duck with sea salt, black pepper and thyme leaves. If time permits, let the duck sit at room temperature for half an hour. Alternatively, season in advance, refrigerate and leave for several hours or overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C, 160°C Fan, 350°F, Gas 4.
- Heat a wide frying pan and add the duck legs, skin side down. Cook over a medium heat for about 15 minutes, until the skin becomes a rich golden colour. Pour off the excess duck fat and reserve. When the legs are browned, remove from the pan.
- Pour a couple of tablespoons of duck fat back into the pan and add the red onions. Season with salt and cook slowly for 10–15 minutes. Add the shredded cabbage and extra thyme and cook for about 5 minutes, tossing regularly. Deglaze the pan with the sherry vinegar, boil for about 10 seconds and then add the stock. Transfer the vegetables and the broth to an ovenproof dish and sit the duck legs on top. Scatter the quartered tomatoes around the duck.
- Transfer the dish to the oven and cook for about 1 1/2 hours, or until the duck legs are meltingly tender. If you pull a piece of meat off the bone, it should come away really easily, otherwise return it to the oven to continue cooking. Always check during the cooking time that there is still sufficient broth in the dish. Remove from the oven and allow to settle. Spoon off any excess fat that rises to the surface. If the broth is too runny, you may strain it off the duck legs and vegetables and reduce it in a separate pot by boiling.
- To serve, place a good spoonful of pomme purée in the centre of wide soup bowls. Spoon the sauce and vegetables around the potato and sit a duck leg on top. Serve immediately.
To make the Pomme Purée:
- Peel the potatoes and steam until completely tender. While still hot, pass them through a potato ricer back into the saucepan (or use a potato masher).
- Put the butter and milk (or milk and cream) in a saucepan and bring up to the boil. Place the potatoes over a low flame and begin adding the warm milk mixture. Season the potatoes and keep adding the liquid until the potato is a creamy consistency. The amount of liquid will vary each time and also depends on the type of potatoes, so add it gradually.
How to avoid lumpy mashed potato:
Always make sure that both the potato and the liquid are hot. If the potato has gone cold, you can either reheat it carefully in the saucepan, or better still, reheat it in a microwave before adding the liquid. Cold potato will be lumpy.
From Lynda's Table is available from all good bookstores and The Dublin Cookery School, http://www.dublincookeryschool.ie/