Balsamic-Glazed Duck Legs with Figs and Onions

This deeply flavored, earthy recipe was inspired by a dish Annabel Langbein tasted at the Amisfield Bistro, just outside historic Arrowtown in New Zealand's Central Otago region. Most Bistro diners order a selection of small plates to pass around the table, but no one wants to share the crispy duck when it's on the menu: It's just too good.

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  • Servings: 6

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  • 1/2 cup apple juice
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 12 dried figs
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
  • 6 large Pekin duck legs
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 pound medium red onions, each cut into 6 wedges
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth

How to make this recipe

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°. In a small saucepan, combine the apple juice with 1/2 cup of the balsamic vinegar and bring to a boil. Simmer over high heat until thickened and reduced to 1/4 cup, 6 minutes. Pour the balsamic glaze into a glass measuring cup and let cool to room temperature.

  2. In a heatproof bowl, combine the figs and orange juice. Cover and microwave at 50 percent power for 8 minutes.

  3. Prick the duck legs all over with a fork and season with salt and pepper. Transfer the legs to a rimmed baking sheet and roast in the upper third of the oven for about 30 minutes, or until most of the fat has been rendered and the skin is crisp. Transfer the duck legs to a platter and pour off the fat from the baking sheet.

  4. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°. Arrange the plumped figs and the onion wedges, cut side down, on the baking sheet. Drizzle with the fig cooking liquid, olive oil, honey and the remaining 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. Set the duck legs on top of the onions and figs, pour the chicken broth around the duck legs and bake in the upper third of the oven for about 1 hour, or until the duck is very tender.

  5. Transfer the duck legs to the platter. Continue roasting the onions and figs for 45 minutes longer. Return the duck legs and their juices to the baking sheet and roast for 10 minutes, or until the duck is heated through. Transfer the duck legs to plates. Using tongs, set the onion wedges and figs alongside the duck. Pour the pan juices over the onions and drizzle with the balsamic glaze.

Suggested Pairing

The dark succulence of duck matches well with Pinot Noir's earthy berry fruit character. Pinot Noir is gaining prominence in New Zealand, especially in the Central Otago region where Annabel Langbein spends much of her time.

Contributed By Published September 2006

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