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Mains

Duck leg ragout with green olives and eggplant

Prunes that have soaked in Armagnac for six months, minimum. The blood of a freshly killed hare. Nine pounds of fresh fava beans, husked and peeled. A 6-inch-thick bed of pine needles. One dish alone -- a cassoulet -- required ... Read more

Total time: 2 hours, 10 minutes | Serves 2
  • 2 large whole duck legs, moulard, Muscovy or Pekin
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 large tomato, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 3 sprigs of thyme
  • 1 imported bay leaf
  • 1/3 cup poultry stock
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 1 recipe sauteed eggplant
  • 1/2 cup pitted green olives, preferably Picholine, soaked in water if salty
  • 4 rounds of French bread, toasted in the oven, rubbed with garlic

Step 1Trim the fat from all of the legs and render it. Reserve 2 tablespoons for preparing this dish; save the rest for some other purpose. Score the fatty skin without piercing the flesh. In a large, deep skillet over low heat, warm the rendered fat. Add the duck legs, skin side down, and cook, turning once, until browned, about 5 minutes per side. Pour off all the fat in the skillet. Season the legs with salt and pepper.

Step 2Add the onion, raise the heat to moderate, and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes, until softened and golden. Add the tomato, thyme and bay leaf and cook for 1 minute. Add the stock and wine and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Cover and simmer until the legs are tender, about 1 1/2 hours, turning the duck legs from time to time [adding one-half cup water toward the end of cooking time if needed]. Note: Muscovy ducks will take an additional 30 to 60 minutes to cook. (The recipe can be prepared to this point up to 1 day in advance. If made ahead, reheat gently before proceeding.)

Step 3When ready to serve, add the sauteed eggplant and the olives to the duck legs with their sauce and gently stir to combine. Correct the seasoning and serve at once garnished with garlic toasts.

Note: From "The Cooking of Southwest France" by Paula Wolfert. Substitute three-fourths cup diced, canned tomatoes for fresh when not in season. Some kinds of duck legs may not render as much fat as necessary; purchase some separately if needed.
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