This is a great get-ahead dinner party standby – it looks sophisticated, but it’s really easy.
You can get your prep done early on, and just put it all together closer to serving time. The duck cooks slowly at a low heat, and then gets crisped up in the oven for about 30 minutes before serving, while you cook your lentils.
In the NOTES at the bottom, I’ve given instructions for preparing ahead and reheating times.
- Frying pan,
- a couple of saucepans (one medium, one small)
- roasting dish
INGREDIENTS: to feed four (increase quantities if you’re cooking for more people)
- 1 fresh duck leg per person
- 2 carrots
- 1 stick of celery
- 4-5 shallots
- fresh rosemary and thyme, finely chopped
- 250g Puy lentils, rinsed
- 500ml hot chicken stock
- a tablespoon of Balsamic vinegar
- Some rapeseed oil
- Unsalted butter
- Maldon sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Freshly chopped parsley
METHOD: Start off the duck:
- Heat the oven to 120 degrees
- Wipe the duck with kitchen paper until it’s completely dry.
- rub in some oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper
- Heat the pan to it’s highest setting
- Place the duck skin-side down onto the pan – (there will be some spitting, so if you have a splatter guard, this is the day to use it)
- Let the duck breasts cook on the high heat until the fat starts to run. Have look, and if they’re nicely browned, turn them over and cook the other side for a minute or two.
- Remove them to a baking dish or casserole. (I didn’t have a suitable one so I used a lasagne dish, and covered it firmly with tin foil)
- Put into the oven for 90-120 minutes, until a knife slips very easily into the thickest part of the duck leg.
- Drain off the fat, and move the duck legs to a shallow roasting tin.
- Turn up the heat in the oven to 180-200, and let the duck legs crisp up.
While the duck is roasting:
- Put good -sized knob of butter into the small saucepan, and allow it to melt
- 1 finely chopped carrot
- 2 finely chopped shallots
- 1 finely chopped stick of celery
- 2 finely chopped cloves of garlic
- some fresh thyme, and some finely chopped rosemary
- Allow to sweat gently for 10 minutes or so, then add the chicken stock and allow it reduce down to almost nothing, and the vegetables are tender.
- Then add the Balsamic vinegar
At the same time, cook the lentils:
Into the medium saucepan put:
- A carrot, sliced length-ways.
- Half a stick of celery, sliced lengthways
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 2 whole shallots
- Add 250g of rinsed lentils – do not add any salt
- Add about 600mls cold water, bring to the boil and then simmer gently for 20 minutes until the lentils are tender
- Drain the lentils, remove the vegetable pieces
- Add the diced vegetables and their sauce to the lentils and mix together.
- Fold in the fresh parsley
- In warmed dishes, put a portion of the lentil mixture
- Place the duck leg on top
- sprinkle with a little extra fresh parsley.
- To prepare all this ahead, cook the duck slowly until tender and place on a roasting tray. Allow to cool
- Make the diced vegetable section as described above, and allow to cool
- Prepare and put the ingredients for the lentil broth together into the medium sauce pan. Do not cook.
Then, about 30-40 minutes before dinner:
- Heat the oven to 200, and put the duck legs in.
- Put your dinner plates into the warming oven.
- Bring the lentil mixture to the boil and cook as above. Adjust the seasoning when it’s cooked.
- Gently reheat the vegetable mixture
- Drain the lentils as above, (remove the large vegetable pieces)
- Serve as above.