braised duck legs and fennel
- 4 duck legs, trimmed of excess fat
- 3 small fennel bulbs, cored and sliced lengthwise 1/3 inch thick, 1/2 cup coarsely chopped, feathery fronds chopped
- 2 medium onions, 1 coarsely chopped and 1 thinly sliced
- 1 carrot, thinly sliced
- 1 thyme sprig
- 1 small rosemary sprig
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
- Finely grated zest of 1 orange
- 1 cup chicken or beef stock
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 tablespoon Pernod or other anise-flavored liqueur
- Chickpea Crêpes
honey-glazed duck breasts
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/4 teaspoon cayanne pepper
- 4 duck breasts (8 to 10 ounces each), skin scored lightly in a cross-hatch pattern
- Preheat the oven to 325°. Heat a large, deep ovenproof skillet. Add the duck legs, skin side down, and cook over moderate heat, turning once, until the skin is browned and crisp, about 15 minutes. Transfer the duck legs to a plate and pour all but 1 tablespoon of the fat into a heatproof bowl.
- Heat the skillet. Add the coarsely chopped fennel and onion and the carrot and cook over moderate heat until softened, 5 minutes. Stir in the thyme, rosemary and white wine and cook until nearly evaporated, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Return the duck legs to the skillet, skin side up. Add the orange juice, half of the orange zest and the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Cover the skillet tightly, transfer to the oven and bake for about 1 1/2 hours, or until the duck is very tender and the liquid has reduced by half. Transfer the duck legs to a work surface and let cool slightly. Raise the oven temperature to 400°.
- Strain the sauce through a fine sieve into a small saucepan, pressing down on the solids. Skim the fat from the sauce. Discard the duck skin and coarsely shred the meat. Season with salt and pepper.
- Heat the olive oil in the skillet. Add the sliced onion, cover and cook over moderately low heat until softened, 5 minutes. Add the sliced fennel, water and the remaining grated orange zest and season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook, stirring, until softened but not browned, about 15 minutes. Add the Pernod and cook uncovered until all of the liquid evaporates. Stir in the fennel fronds.
- Lightly brush a baking sheet with some of the reserved duck fat. Arrange 8 Chickpea Crêpes on a work surface. Spoon the braised duck leg meat onto the crÊpes and fold each one into quarters. Transfer the duck-filled crêpes to the baking sheet, brush lightly with duck fat and cover with foil.
- In a spice grinder, work the fennel, coriander and cumin seeds just until coarsely ground. Transfer to a small bowl and add the honey and cayenne. Set a large ovenproof skillet over moderate heat. Season the duck breasts with salt and pepper and add them to the skillet, skin side down. Cook, spooning off the rendered fat as it accumulates, until the skin is deeply golden and crisp, about 10 minutes. Turn the duck breasts and brush generously with the honey. Roast in the upper third of the oven for 4 minutes, or until medium rare and the skin is lacquered. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes, then thinly slice the breasts. Stir 1 tablespoon of the caramelized pan juices into the reserved sauce and reheat.
- Heat the duck crêpes in the oven and rewarm the fennel compote. Set 2 duck crêpes on each of 4 large plates and top with a sliced duck breast. Spoon the fennel compote alongside. Drizzle the sauce over the duck breasts and serve right away.
The recipe can be prepared 1 day ahead through Step 6; refrigerate all of the components separately.
Contrast the intensity of the duck and demiglace sauce with a soft, textured Merlot from Napa Valley or Long Island that has a touch of tannin.