When I was growing up, there was a fig tree straddling my parents' and my neighbor's fence. On prolific years, we couldn't eat enough of the fruit. We ate the fruit straight off the tree for snacks, turned it into jam, and skewered it on the grill alongside lamb or chicken. But I'd never thought to pair the fruit with duck legs before reading Nigel Slater's Ripe.
His Duck with Figs and Barolo is an exercise in restraint. Two legs are seasoned and roasted in a hot oven before being finished in a quick red wine and fig sauce. The wine melds beautifully with the rendered fat, and the sliced figs suck up the sauce becoming at once sweet, rich, and pleasantly tannic.
Why I picked this recipe: The simplicity called out to me. Duck, wine, figs and little else make for a rustic, easy meal.
What worked: Gently sweet figs were a delightful foil to the gamy duck and robust wine.
What didn't: I found the quick-roasted legs a bit tough; a longer, slower cook-time would have capitalized on their connective tissue and made for a more tender outcome.
Suggested tweaks: The wine and fig sauce would taste fantastic drizzled over duck confit.
As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Ripe: A Cook in the Orchard to give away.