Inspired by German celebratory harvest meals from centuries past, this comforting braised dish trades the traditional goose leg quarters for easier-to-source duck, served on a bed of buttery-crisp spaetzle and saucy mushrooms. A beurre manié—a quick mash of softened butter and flour—is the key to thickening the delicious sauce in this braise. The duck will continue to cook while standing in the braising liquid for an hour, so only cook it until tender beforehand.

Maria Sinskey
October 2020

Gallery

David Malosh

Recipe Summary

active:
35 mins
total:
4 hrs 35 mins
Yield:
6 to 8
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Ingredients

Ingredient Checklist

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • Sprinkle duck legs evenly with salt and pepper. Arrange legs, skin sides up, on a wire rack set inside a baking sheet. Refrigerate, uncovered, 8 hours.

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  • Preheat oven to 275°F. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-low. Add 3 duck legs, skin sides down, to Dutch oven; cook, undisturbed, until deep golden brown while slowly rendering duck fat, about 25 minutes. Transfer legs to a rimmed baking sheet. Pour rendered fat into a heatproof bowl. Repeat process using remaining duck legs, reserving fat. Chill rendered fat in bowl until ready to use.

  • Return all duck legs to Dutch oven; add 6 cups water, onion, thyme, garlic, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil over medium-high. Cover Dutch oven, and transfer to preheated oven. Roast until duck is just fork-tender and cooked through, 1 hour and 15 minutes to 1 hour and 30 minutes. Remove from oven. Let mixture cool, uncovered, in Dutch oven at room temperature 1 hour.

  • Transfer duck legs to a rimmed baking sheet; tent with aluminum foil, and set aside. Pour braising liquid in Dutch oven through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a heatproof bowl; discard solids. Skim and discard fat from liquid; return liquid to Dutch oven. Bring to a boil over medium-high. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook until liquid is reduced to about 2 cups, about 40 minutes.

  • Meanwhile, stir together butter and flour in a small bowl until smooth. Gradually add butter mixture to reduced braising liquid, 1 teaspoon at a time, whisking constantly, until completely melted and incorporated. Cook over medium-low, whisking occasionally, until raw flour taste cooks out, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Keep sauce warm over low until ready to serve.

  • Heat 2 tablespoons reserved duck fat in a large nonstick skillet over medium. Place 3 duck legs, skin sides down, in skillet; cook until skin is golden brown and crisp, 3 to 4 minutes. Flip and cook until duck legs are just heated through, 1 to 2 minutes; transfer to a plate. (Do not wipe skillet clean.) Repeat process using 2 tablespoons duck fat and remaining duck legs. Reserve and refrigerate remaining duck fat for another use.

  • Arrange spaetzle, mushroom ragout, and duck legs on a platter. Serve with braising sauce.

Make Ahead

Duck legs may be braised, cooled, and chilled overnight in braising liquid. Discard hardened fat, and reheat duck slowly on the stove before continuing recipe.

Notes

Find duck legs at dartagnan.com.

Suggested Pairing

Earthy, darkly fruity German Pinot Noir.