Roasted Duck Leg & Lentil Salad
with Warm Lentil and Caramelized Pear Salad
Don't be intimidated by duck confit. Forget the days of salt curing and the pounds of duck fat that traditional recipes call for. When duck legs are cooked low and slow and served right out of the oven, they are the most succulent, tender meat you will ever taste.
Serves 6, total time:
- 6 duck legs
- ¼ cup salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper, ground
- 1 teaspoon fennel seed, ground
- 1 teaspoon juniper berry, crushed
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
- 1 cup lentils (your favorite kind)
- 4 slices bacon (optional)
- ½ cup onions, medium dice
- ½ celery stalk, medium dice
- ½ carrot, medium dice
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 6 cups water
- 2 tablespoons duck fat, reserved from roasting the duck
- 1 Bosc pear, sliced
- 2 tablespoons fresh sage, chopped
- ½ head of Savoy cabbage, sliced
- ¼ cups walnuts, chopped
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Make the Duck
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Combine Salt Seasoning ingredients, sprinkle the duck legs with the mixture and place the legs into a baking dish with the skin side up.
- Cover the dish with a piece of wax paper, then cover with aluminum foil. Place in the oven for 2 hours. Check the duck legs. The meat should be tender enough to cut with a fork. If not, cook an additional 30 minutes or until tender. You'll notice that much of the fat will have been rendered out of the skin. The legs will be 50-60% submerged in their own fat with just the skin above the surface.
- To finish the duck legs, remove the foil and wax paper. Turn the oven broiler to high. Cook until the skin becomes crispy. Remove the legs from the fat and place on a platter lined with paper towels. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the duck fat for use in the caramelized pears. (See Chef's Note regarding the remaining duck fat.)
Make the Lentils
- While the duck is cooking, place the lentils, bacon (if using), onion, celery, carrot, bay leaf, salt, and water in a medium sauce pot and simmer for about an hour or until beans are tender. Strain the liquid and discard. Keep lentil mixture warm.
Make the Caramelized Pears
- In a large sauté pan, heat the 2 tablespoons of reserved duck fat. Once the fat smokes lightly, add the pears and stir gently. Let the pears cook for 2 minutes or until they start to turn a light brown color.
- Stir in the sage and cabbage, cover with a lid, and cook for 4 minutes. Add the walnuts and balsamic vinegar. Add the lentils, mixing thoroughly.
- To serve, place warm lentil-pear salad on a platter. Top with the duck legs and serve immediately.
Once the duck fat has cooled down, strain through a fine screen sieve. Reserve this fat in the refrigerator and use in any recipe that calls for shortening. You can also use this fat to fry French fries or fried chicken!