As the days continue to shrink, I instinctively, like most of you, go after heartier food whether we need it or not. After all, most days of the week I leave my central heated home, in my heated car, to a warm office and then repeat in reverse. I mean, it’s not like I’m toiling in the fields or anything. If you are toiling in fields though, then you’d totally get this I suppose.
Maybe it’s the dark nights, I don’t know. I thought I’d try and do something simple and filling but with a twist here though. This is a typical bistro dish at heart so my apologies for the simplicity of it, but if you try it, you won’t be disappointed.
The duck legs take a little time to cook but end up beautifully tender, full of flavour and with great crisp skin. The butternut squash mash is arguably tastier and healthier than regular mash as you can keep butter and cream to a minimum, if any at all. I simply flavoured it with ginger and cumin seed for a bit of edge and it works beautifully with the duck.
It was finished with a light gravy made from the cooking juices, some sweet Muscat wine and herbs which rounded the whole lot off nicely I thought.
I really should say ‘bon appetit!’. But I won’t.
- 2 duck legs
- A little oil for frying
- 1 butternut squash
- 1 thumb sized piece of ginger
- About 20g butter (leave it out if you prefer, health fans)
- 1 tsp of cumin seeds
- 2 handfuls of green beans
- 1 small glass of Muscat wine
- 1 sprig of rosemary
- A handful of thyme
- Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 130oC/260oF
Well season the duck all over. Get an oven proof frying pan on the hob with a little oil until hot. Don’t add too much as plenty will render out the duck – it’s just to stop the skin sticking, which if the pan its hot enough, it shouldn’t do.
So add the duck, skin side down and brown well for a few minutes. Turn them over and put the pan in the oven for a couple of hours.
Turn the oven off, remove pan from the oven, remembering NOT to touch the handle with bare hands afterwards – as I often do – and return the duck on a plate to rest. Don’t cover or the skin might go soggy.
Keep all the goodness in the pan for the gravy later.
Peel the squash and chop into pieces. Bring to the boil in a pan of water and cook for about 15 mins until soft. For the last five, I added the steamer insert above the squash and steamed the green beans, otherwise, steam or boil them gently for a couple of minutes in a separate pan until tender.
Drain the vegetables and keep the beans warm. Leave the squash to steam-dry a bit in the colander. In the same pan (sorry washing up fans), heat a little more oil.
Grate in the ginger and add the cumin. Fry gently for a couple minutes and then mash in the squash. Add the butter, if using and season to taste. Cover the pan and keep warm.
Heat the frying pan back up. When warm pour or spoon out most the duck fat on the surface. Deglaze the pan with the Muscat until thick. Add a little more water than you need to bulk it out, lay the rosemary and thyme on top and allow to reduce over a low/moderate heat to infuse. Once reduced you could (or is that should?) add a little butter at this point, making it lovely and even richer, but either way season to taste.
I did find the gravy went a bit opaque, so I’d normally strain it through some muslin cloth, but it doesn’t change the flavour one bit.