February 19, 2012

Roasted Duck Leg with Pomegranate Cherry Glaze

I have days where I need to clean everything in my apartment.  When I will not be satisfied until everything is in its place because I am convinced that having nothing to clean will make me more productive.  And with two major assignments coming up, today was one of those days.  When I got to the freezer, I found a duck leg I had frozen from a month ago and a bag of frozen cherries.  That got my mind working to create a decadent glaze for a slow roasted duck, the perfect complement to the dark meat in the leg.

The whole process will take about 2 hours but it is worth it!  Once I had trimmed, pierced the fat layer, and thrown the duck in the oven I started my glaze.  The glaze reduced for about 30 minutes over low heat and was cooled before coating the duck for the last 15 minutes of cooking.  The glaze consisted of pomegranate juice, frozen pitted cherries, and balsamic vinegar balanced with dijon mustard and fresh thyme.  I used the trimmings from the duck leg to saute shallots and cherry tomatoes as a quick side.  The acid in the tomatoes cuts the fat in the duck and was a surprising compliment to the glaze.

Sometimes, you just need to treat yourself.  And this meal was definitely a treat!

Roasted Duck Leg with Pomegranate Cherry Glaze
1 duck leg, trimmed of excess fat, fat layer piereced
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 small shallot, diced
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup pomegranate juice
1/2 cup frozen pitted cherries
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 sprig fresh thyme (or just a sprinkle of dried thyme)
2 teaspoons brown sugar
salt and pepper

The extraneous thigh meat and any extra fat hidden under the leg was removed for a more even cooking time
When trimming up the duck leg, take off any thigh meat left on the leg and excess skin and fat left on the underside of the leg.  Using a sharp knife, pierce the fat layer just before you get to the meat, creating a diamond pattern by cutting parallel lines in one direction, rotating the leg, and repeating.  Salt and pepper generously and put on a foiled lipped baking sheet for about 1hours and 45 minutes at 325 F.

While the duck is roasting, prepare the glaze.  In a small saucepan, saute the diced shallots in the butter with salt and pepper on medium-high heat. (If you are using dried thyme, add the pinch at this step.)

Add the balsamic vinegar and allow to reduce for about 1-2 minutes, until just thickened.  Add the pomegranate juice, dijon mustard, frozen cherries, fresh thyme, brown sugar.

Let the mixture come to a boil and then simmer for about 30-40 minutes.  The resulting glaze will be a deep purple color and very thick with the cherries broken down into the glaze.

Glaze the duck leg after 1 hour and 45 minutes and put back in the oven for 15 more minutes.

Take out of the oven and cover with foil to rest for 10 minutes.  Serve with the sauteed cherry tomatoes and a side salad for a complete meal.

Duck Fat Sauteed Cherry Tomatoes
trimmings from the duck leg
1 small shallot, cut thinly into rings
2 sprigs fresh thyme
about 1/2 a pint of cherry tomatoes
additional olive oil if needed
salt and pepper

Add the trimmings fat side down to a nonstick skillet on medium heat.

When the fat has sufficiently coated the pan, add the sliced shallots and saute until a light brown color.  Season with salt and pepper.  If you need a little more olive oil, now is the time to add it.

Add the cherry tomatoes, reduce the heat, and cover the pan for about 5-7 minutes.  Remove the cooked pieces of duck and turn the heat to medium-high to finish the tomatoes.  The tomatoes should be just collapsing and the shallots will have become a deep brown color.

Just before the tomatoes are done, the skins are beginning to burst and the tomatoes are losing their shape
Slice the duck thinly and add back to the pan to finish.  Perfect indulgent side dish, enjoy!

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