It’s less than a week after Thanksgiving, and frankly, I want to think less about food, not more. But Hanukkah has sprung itself upon us early this year (just wait until 2013 when Hanukkah starts the day before turkey day!) and it’s time to get right back in that kitchen. Hey, at least the silver has already had its yearly polish, right? Suffice to say, I am in no mood to slave over complicated dishes. Clearly, this is the perfect occasion to whip out a few of our tried-and-true Lazy Gourmet recipes. In that vein, tonight I’m serving Duck Legs in Port Reduction as the main event. I know that duck may seem like one of those dishes best left to restaurant chefs with professionally equipped kitchens, but this method—using only the legs, which are the moistest and most flavorful part of the bird—is simple and virtually foolproof.
If you don’t want to spring for a bottle of port, feel free to substitute a good-quality, big red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Zinfandel.I made the sauce while I worked yesterday afternoon (with only a few minutes of prep, and a few stirs now and then), so today all I have to do is pop the duck legs in the oven, wait an hour, drain the fat off, pour the sauce over the top, and pop them back in the oven. To make things super easy on myself, I’ve also already made my latkes, using this method, perfected by another Robin. While the duck cooks, I’ll reheat the latkes (in the oven with the roasting duck), sautée some chard with garlic, and before the candles burn out, we’ll be enjoying a true Lazy Gourmet feast.
Duck may seem like one of those dishes best left to restaurant chefs with professionally equipped kitchens, but this method—using only the legs, which are the moistest and most flavorful part of the bird—is simple and virtually foolproof. From The Lazy Gourmet: Magnificent Meals Made Easy.
- 6 large duck legs, 8 to 10 ounces each, trimmed of excess fat
- grated zest of 1 orange
- 1½ teaspoons kosher salt, divided
- ¼–½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 medium bulb fennel, cored and diced
- 1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
- 6 fresh thyme sprigs
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 cups port
- 3 cups chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons (loosely packed) minced flat leaf parsley
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- Place duck legs in an ovenproof baking dish large enough to hold them snugly in a single layer. Sprinkle orange zest, pepper, and ½ teaspoon salt over duck.
- Roast in preheated oven, uncovered, for 1 hour.
- While the duck is in the oven, make the sauce. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, fennel, carrot, thyme sprigs, bay leaf, and the remaining 1 teaspoon salt.
- Cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables are soft and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes.
- Add vinegar and port and increase heat to high. Bring the liquid to a boil and cook until it is reduced by half, about 6 to 8 minutes.
- Add chicken broth and return to a boil.
- Reduce heat to low and simmer until sauce thickens, 10 to 15 minutes.
- Remove from heat and set aside.
- When duck has been in the oven for an hour, remove the baking dish, leaving the oven on. Drain the fat from the pan. (The easiest way to do this is to transfer the duck legs to a plate using tongs, pour off the fat, and return the duck legs to the dish.)
- Pour the sauce over the duck legs. The sauce should come about halfway up the duck legs. If you have too much sauce, reserve the extra for serving. (Heat it up and, if desired, reduce it further on the stove.)
- Return the duck to the oven and roast for 30 minutes more, until the skin is crisp and the meat is cooked through.
- Transfer the duck legs to a serving platter or individual serving plates, drizzle the remaining sauce over the top, scatter parsley over, and serve.