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Video:How to Braise Duck Legs

with Erica Wides

Braising duck legs will keep the meat tasting juicy and flavorful. Find out how to properly braise duck legs.See Transcript

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Transcript:How to Braise Duck Legs

Hi, I’m Erica Wides of Chefsmartypants.com, here for About.com. Today, we’re going to talk about braising or cooking the tougher parts of animals, like these duck legs. And braising means cooking meats in liquid. A flavorful liquid like stock, with the addition of some sort of acid like wine. And some aromatic vegetables, that we call Mir Poi (check spelling please). Which is a combination of carrots, celery, and onion.

Ingredients for Braised Duck Legs

Two cups of carrots, large diced. One cup onion, large diced. One stalk of celery, sliced. 2 Garlic cloves, crushed. One large Sprig of Thyme, one Bay Leaf. Once Cup of Red Wine. Two Cups of Chicken Stock. And two duck legs.

Braising the Duck

So, the first thing I want to do is just trim some of this fat and I’m going to season them. We want to use a decent amount of seasoning on this. Some Kosher salt. And cracked black pepper.

And, into the pot with the duck I’ll also be adding these, which are two duck gizzards and a heart. So, I’m going to use them because they taste really good. Let’s braise our duck.

Browning the Duck

So, the first thing I need to do is put the ducks in a pan and start browning them up. I want to brown the skin a little bit and render out what’s left of the fat. So, I’m setting my duck skin side down in this pan. This is a traditional copper French braising pan, but you could do it in any deep saute pan, any Dutch oven. I’m also going to throw in the gizzard and the hearts that came with my duck. So, you can see now that the fat is starting to render out of the skin. That is all just coming out of the skin. So now what we want to do is turn the duck legs over and we’ll let the other side cook now.

Add the Mir Poi to the Pot

So, the next step is we take the duck legs out and put the mir poi, those aromatic vegetables in. We’ll also take out the gizzard and hearts, and into the pan the onions and the celery. Also the garlic went in there. Now I have some color on my celery and my onions and my garlic and now I’m going to add in my carrots. Now, the ducks go back in. I’m going to add wine, this is red wine, just a Merlot – your basic. I have a bay leaf and a thyme sprig in there too. So you want to just let the wine cook out for a couple of minutes, now let some of the alcohol evaporate out and let some of that water cook out too. We want to get rid of the water, so we can concentrate the flavor.

Focus on Flavor

When you’re braising, the protein should only be partially immersed, and that partial immersion of liquid will allow for a really rich sauce to develop in. So, now I’m going to pour in the Chicken Stock. And, I’m only going to pour in enough so that they’re partially immersed. So, I want to bring this back up to a boil. But, then I want to bring it up to the lowest possible simmer. So, we’re at a full boil now, so I’m going to turn the heat way down. Remember low and slow.

Get Rid of Scum

And, you can also see in this pot there’s some what we call scum. We want to get rid of the scum. I’m just going to take a spoon and very gently skim that out.

So now we’re right where we want it. Just a couple of bubbles coming up and breaking off the surface and that’s exactly where you want a braise to be.

Are the Duck Legs Done?

So, here are those beautiful braised duck legs. They’re really tender. How do I know? Because I stuck a fork in them. The best way to tell if something’s done is put a fork in it – if the fork goes in and come out easily – it’s done.

Create a Sauce from the Juices

So, I’m going to put the strained juices from the duck back in a small sauce pan and turn it up. What I want to do now is boil those juices down a little bit. To give the sauce a little bit more body and get a little bit thicker. So continue to skim, to get the fat off, and let it reduce another minute or so. You want to take it down by about half of its volume.

Before you put a sauce over a plate of food you have to taste it. Ooooh that’s good. So here are our duck legs that were braised in red wine and chicken stock. A delicious dish good for any season.

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