Cook the Book: Braised Duck with Ni\u00e7oise Olives and Rosemary

"The duck was so ridiculously tender, we could have eaten it with a spoon."

[Photograph: Caroline Russock]

Duck doesn't make its way into my kitchen too often, and when it does I get nervous. I'll happily order it out but have never had much success with it in my own kitchen. But now that the weather is cold, I'm in the mood for a braise and decided to try my luck with this Braised Duck with Niçoise Olives and Rosemary from Salt to Taste by Marco Canora.

As it turns out, duck legs are much more forgiving than searing breasts or roasting the whole bird. The duck browned in a hot pan, causing the flavorful fat to render out and infuse the other ingredients with all its ducky goodness. A nicely browned mirepoix, red wine, salty Niçoise olives and plenty of rosemary are responsible for the rest of the seasoning. It's finished in the oven so the duck can braise to falling-off-the-bone doneness.

The duck was so ridiculously tender, we could have eaten it with a spoon. The braising liquid that pooled in our plates added a wonderful meaty element to the winter farro salad I served alongside it.

Perfect winter braise accomplished. Fear of cooking duck banished.

It was one of the best cold weather meals I've made this year.

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Cook the Book: Braised Duck with Niçoise Olives and Rosemary

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About This Recipe

Yield:4

Ingredients

  • 8 duck legs
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • About 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and minced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and minced
  • 2 celery stalks, minced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 fresh rosemary sprigs, leaves picked
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1⁄2 cup pitted Nicoise olives
  • About 4 cups chicken broth

Procedures

  1. 1

    Preheat the oven to 325°F. Season the duck with salt and pepper.

  2. 2

    Heat a skim of oil, about 2 tablespoons, over medium-high heat in an ovenproof skillet large enough to hold the duck in a snug single layer. Working in batches, brown the duck legs, skin side down, about 7 minutes. Flip them and then brown the other side, about 4 minutes more. Reserve the browned duck legs on a plate.

  3. 3

    Discard most of the oil, leaving just enough to coat the bottom of the skillet. Add the onion, carrot, and celery. Fry the vegetables, stirring frequently and

  4. 4

    adjusting the heat if necessary to prevent burning, until they soften and

  5. 5

    become a richly caramelized brown, about 12 minutes.

  6. 6

    Add the tomato paste and rosemary and cook, stirring frequently, until it concentrates and darkens, about 5 minutes. Deglaze the pan with wine, scraping the bottom with a spoon.

  7. 7

    Return the duck to the pan, skin side down, adding any juices that have accumulated on the plate. Add the olives and enough broth to barely cover.

  8. 8

    ring the broth to a simmer, then transfer the uncovered pan to the oven. Braise the duck in the oven, checking to make sure the liquid is simmering

  9. 9

    very gently. After 45 minutes, turn the legs over and continue cooking, basting

  10. 10

    the duck with the braising liquid every 10 minutes until the meat is beginning

  11. 11

    to shrink from the bone, about 45 minutes more.

  12. 12

    Spoon off and discard any fat that floats on the surface of the braising liquid. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper and serve in warm shallow bowls.

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