Cooking 2 duck legs + 1 duck breast simultaneously.
September 10, 2010 8:49 AM   Subscribe

How best to cook 2 duck legs + 1 duck breast for dinner? If I can do it in one dish, that would be best! Details inside.

I have fresh local duck parts that I want to cook for dinner tonight. 2 legs, each one a full leg (it's got both leg bones + a little bit of the duck's hind end, I don't know the technical term for it - hindquarters?) plus 1 full duck breast.

I've cooked them separately before but I want to make sure they both finish cooking at the same time and I want to do it in one dish if possible (12" stainless-steel all-clad saute pan w/straight sides + lid or a dutch oven.) I can use either of those on the stovetop + oven. The oven is a consumer-grade gas convection oven.

I was thinking of scoring the fat side of the duck breast, searing both sides of the breasts + legs in the pan, and then sticking it in the oven to braise or roast. Any suggestions for temp / braise vs. roast? Should I turn the breast fat-side-up at some point to get it crispy or leave it fat-down to render out the fat? How long should I expect the duck to cook?
posted by rubadub to Food & Drink (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: For sides I have some leftover brown rice I'm going to mix with dried cherries and almond slivers, and some whole sweet potatoes I'd like to roast with maple+brown sugar at the same time as the duck's in the oven if at all possible.

I can braise it in white wine, belgian ale, or chicken stock, if braising is the way to go (I have all these in the house.)

Just an idea of where it's headed & what it's going with if you have specific fall-flavored suggestions!
posted by rubadub at 8:52 AM on September 10, 2010

This looks delicious.
posted by phunniemee at 8:56 AM on September 10, 2010

I cooked a pot roasted duck dish with autumn squash a few years back that worked really nicely. You don't get the crispy skin, but nor do you have to worry about searing then roasting, or tweaking timings so that both legs and breast are ready at the same time. You could approximate the same recipe with the sweet potatoes I'd imagine.

Couldn't find the recipe online, but it boils down to the following:

i. colour the duck in a little fat
ii. season with salt, pepper and a good dose of fresh thyme (if possible)
iii. stack duck pieces with cubed squash in your pan (straight sided frying pan with a lid ought to be fine)
iv. cover and cook on lowest possible heat until duck falls off the bone
posted by bifter at 8:58 AM on September 10, 2010

Canard au vin!
posted by crush-onastick at 9:11 AM on September 10, 2010

Sorry, but I'd cook them separately. The legs will do well with a braise and the breast will be best if sautee'd.

If you braise the breast, the skin will stay flabby and there truly is nothing better than crispy duck skin.

Did you get quarters with the thigh and leg? I would render the fat on all 3 pieces before doing anything.

Reserve the fat and cook some fingerling potatoes in it- duck fat fried potatoes with a little garlic, thyme, rosemary is also one of the greatest things on this planet!!!

Once you have a nice fond developed. Pull the pieces out and saute mirepoix (onion, celery, carrot) in a little of the reserved fat for about 5 to 10 minutes (until they are cooked). Add some shallot and garlic.

Deglaze the pan with some red wine and add a little tomato paste. Reduce the red wine down by about 1/2 and add some stock to it and canned tomatoes (or concasse'd fresh tomatoes if you want to concasse your own tomatoes). Add the legs back into the pot and bring to a simmer.

Add a bouquet garnis and let simmer for about 30 minutes or so with the lid partially on to let the contents reduce a little.

Add some oriechette pasta to coat and serve.

As for the duck breast- do an appetizer while this is cooking. The skin should be nicely rendered. Finish it off in a saute pan to medium rare. Serve with a wild mushroom ragout as an appetizer.

Or you could save the duck bolognnaise for dinner tomorrow night and have the duck breast with the duck fat fried potatoes and wild mushroom ragout for dinner tonight (I'd probably do this myself given what you have to work with).

The ragout would also be good with some fresh favas.
posted by TheBones at 9:14 AM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

Disclaimer: I am a vegetarian--almost forever--but I have memories of duck confit that seriously challenge my ethic. That recipe is from Tom Colicchio, but there is no shortage of variations on the theme, and phunniemee's version is right there, too.
posted by beelzbubba at 9:17 AM on September 10, 2010

If you have any questions on any part of what I have put down, please me-mail me, or want to run any other ideas by me, please don't hesitate. I used to cook professionally, and LOVE to talk cooking.

If you are set on using the sweet potatoes, I would either do something like a vanilla sweet potato mash or brunoise them and toss with a little smoked paprika and roast them off/or saute them as sort of a hash with shallot and garlic. You could even saute them off in the duck fat, that would be pretty great also.

If the duck is wild, which I'm not sure it is by your description, I would probably throw it all in the bolognaise as wild duck breast is pretty tiny.
posted by TheBones at 9:19 AM on September 10, 2010

If you have a bunch of quality fat, you could confit them, which would be gentle on the parts that want to dry out. You can sear them, cover with fat (duck fat is an obvious choice, but many use pork fat with duck, and I bet olive oil would be good) and then put it in a 250 oven for the rest of the day or so, in that nice sounding dish you have.
posted by Mngo at 9:21 AM on September 10, 2010

Confit takes 24 hours to dry brine and then cooks for 2 to 3 hours, and then develops more flavor stored in it's fat overnight for up to a couple of days. If you have the time, and the extra duck fat to confit it in, go for it. If not, save it for another time.

Sorry, didn't mean to dump on your post beelzbubba- I LOVE confit, but if you don't know what you are getting into, it's a process (one that I do happily once every couple of months). I also have a quart of my own duck fat in the freezer- yeah, I'm a nutter.
posted by TheBones at 9:23 AM on September 10, 2010

Response by poster: Bifter that sounds tight as hell, I roast chicken much the same way, dunno why it didn't occur to me to do the duck the same way. I drop 3-4 red potatoes in the bottom of a dutch oven, season, drop a whole chicken on top, more seasoning, and cook it for 80-90 mins at 425.

What do you think would be a good temp for roasting if I did something similar with the duck?

Thebones - I'm definitely doing rice + sweet potatoes with it because that's what I have on hand. I'll bookmark your recipe though. :) Have to cook it all today because I bought it fresh 3 days back - I'm OK with adding one section to the oven at a time if one or the other needs to cook longer but I don't have the time to pull a Top Chef tonight.

Quarters are the word I'm looking for though, thanks!
posted by rubadub at 9:43 AM on September 10, 2010

I cooked it in a steel high sided saucepan on the gas stovetop with the lid on, smallest burner, lowest heat. Some of the fat will render into the bottom of the pan, which does a pretty good job of stopping things from sticking / catching.
posted by bifter at 10:02 AM on September 10, 2010

Wait, what? To roast duck, you want HIGH heat, to render as much fat as possible and prevent the meat from having a rubbery texture.

I use the method Alton Brown described on Good Eats. You can find a description of it on the Food Network. It involved a little bit of shuffling the pieces due to varying sizes, but it wasn't bad at all.

I think the roasting temp I used last time was either 475 or 500.
posted by achmorrison at 10:06 AM on September 10, 2010

Alton Brown's Mighty Duck recipe is my go-to for duck. Crispy skin, perfectly cooked leg and breast. Separate the rendered fat from the steamer and save for frying potatoes!
posted by Zimmy at 11:52 AM on September 10, 2010

Response by poster: OK, so I ended up roasting the duck all together - scored the fat on the legs and breast, seared both for a couple minutes, roasted at 300 for a half-hour then turned it up to 450 for a half-hour. Turned out fairly well! I will be roasting a whole duck when I have more time, with a rack, and flipping it over, etc. but it turned out well enough that we ate it all. :)
posted by rubadub at 8:59 AM on September 15, 2010

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