Duck: Braised Duck Legs with Fruit Sauce

Here's the duck as I generally do it, with notes on the both browning techniques in the method. I generally make it with a solid Cabernet, currant balsamic and cassis purée (the French stuff) with a mixture of sour and Bing dried cherries. Mission figs are also good, using the fig balsamic. I often add demi-glace for richness as well. No matter what, the flavour will have to be adjusted at the end to a personal preference for sweet and sour. As always, this varies as much as the ingredients used. Divide or multiply the recipe as needed. This dish is a classic braise; the meat of the duck is not cooked to temperature but cooked to texture. When done, the meat should be ready to fall off the bone. As with all braises, the sauce is now intensely flavoured. Aging the dish by a day will infuse even more flavour into the meat.

3 tablespoons olive oil or 4 oz. bacon cut into 1/4 cubes
8 duck legs, trimmed of excess visible fat
2 cups chicken, veal or duck stock
2 cups red wine
2 sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup sundried fruit- cherries, Mission figs, prunes or a combination
1/2 cup fruit or berry purée
1/2 cup balsamic or fruit vinegar (a good raspberry, cherry cabernet or currant balsamic is nice)

If using bacon, cook until well browned. Drain off the excess fat and remove the bacon bits and reserve.

Heat the remaining oil and brown the duck legs well on all sides. Cook the duck slowly for 10-15 minutes to avoid burning. Drain away the fat. Deglaze the pan with the stock and add the wine, herbs and bacon pieces. Alternatively: Preheat the oven to 450°F. Place the duck legs, untrimmed, on a cooling rack lined baking sheet. Roast until the skin is evenly browned.

Add the duck to the pan and braise in a 325°F oven until just tender. This step may be done in an open pan or covered.

Add the dried fruit half way during the cooking process, leaving the pan uncovered. When the duck has tested tender using a small paring knife, or is loose on the bone, remove from the pan and keep warm.

Strain the juices- reserving the dried fruit if added- and degrease. Reduce if necessary (or thicken with the addition of demi) then add the vinegar and berry purée and return the warm duck and fruit to the sauce. Adjust the seasonings and balance the sweet and sour character of the dish.

Berry purée: Use a commercial berry purée such as cassis (what I use), blueberries, raspberries, blackberries or huckleberries or make your own: Warm the berries in a small saucepan with a teaspoon of sugar and a tablespoon of water then mash with a fork. Frozen berries work nicely.

Source of recipe: Glenys