Braised Crispy Duck Legs with Melted Shallots and Roasted Plums
(Special Sneak Peek from The Zenbelly Cookbook)
- 1 teaspoon finely ground sea salt, divided
- 4 whole duck legs (about 2 pounds total)
- 1 pound shallots (about 5 to 6 large), cut into large dice
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 cups dry red wine, such as Pinot Noir
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 5 to 6 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 pound plums (about 4 large), quartered
- 2 teaspoons honey (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 300°F.
- Salt the duck legs with about 1/2 teaspoon salt total on both sides. Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the duck legs, skin side down. Sear undisturbed for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the skin is brown and crispy. It should release easily from the bottom of the pan.
- Flip the legs and sear on the flesh side for 2 to 3 minutes, and then remove to a plate.
- Drain all but 1 tablespoon of the duck fat from the pan (reserve the rest for later use) and add the shallots. Sauté until golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt and the pepper. Turn the heat up to high and add the wine and chicken broth, scraping up any bits that are stuck to the pan. Add the thyme sprigs and bring to a boil. Once it’s rolling, boil for 1 full minute.
- Turn off the heat and add the duck legs back in, along with any juice that they released. Arrange them skin side up, with the flesh submerged in the liquid and the skin above the surface.
- Cut a piece of parchment in a circle about the size of your pot and snug it in over the duck legs. Cover the pot and place in the oven.
- Braise for 2 hours, then remove the pot from the oven and uncover, being careful of escaping steam. Remove the parchment and discard.
- Turn the oven up to 475°F. Toss the plums with 1 tablespoon of the reserved duck fat and the honey, if using. Remove the duck legs from the braising liquid and place on a rimmed baking sheet, along with the plums.
- Put the duck and plums in the hot oven and roast for 15 minutes, or until the plums are starting to soften and the duck skin is crispy.
- Set the pot with the braising liquid over high heat and reduce until syrupy, about 5 minutes.
- To serve, spoon the sauce onto a platter or individual plates, place the duck legs on top, and arrange the plums alongside.