Roasted Duck Leg Salad
Warm Lentil and Caramelized Pear Salad
Forget the days of salt curing and the pounds of duck fat that duck confit recipes require. When duck legs are simply cooked low and slow and served straight from the oven, they are the most succulent, tender meat you will ever taste.
Serves 6 / Prep Time: / Total Time:
Prepare the duck:
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Combine the seasoning ingredients in a small bowl, then evenly sprinkle over the duck. Arrange the legs, skin-side up, in one layer in a baking dish. Cover the dish with a piece of wax paper and cover with aluminum foil. Transfer to the oven and roast until the meat is tender, 2 to 2 ½ hours. Most of the fat will have rendered and the legs will be partially submerged in the fat with the skin above the surface.
- Remove the foil and wax paper and turn the oven broiler to high. Broil the duck until the skin is crispy, about 2 minutes. Remove the legs from the pan and place on a platter lined with paper a towel to drain. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the duck fat for the salad and set aside the remaining fat for another use. (See Chef’s Note.)
Make the salad:
- While the duck is roasting, prepare the salad. Cook the bacon in a wide saucepan over medium heat until crisp. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat and add the onion, carrot, and celery and sauté until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to a small bowl.
- Add the water, lentils, and bay leaf to the same pot, bring to a boil and simmer over medium-low heat until the lentils are slightly tender and have absorbed most of the liquid, about 30 minutes. Add the bacon and vegetables to the lentils and simmer, covered, until the lentils are fully cooked, about 10 minutes longer. Season to taste with salt and keep warm.
- Stir in the cabbage, sage, salt, and pepper, cover the pan and cook until the cabbage wilts, 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the walnuts and balsamic vinegar and stir in the lentils.
- In a large sauté pan, heat the 2 tablespoons of reserved duck fat over medium heat. As soon as the fat begins to smoke, add the pears and cook until they begin to turn golden brown, about 2 minutes, stirring gently.
- Stir in the cabbage, sage, ¼ teaspoon salt, and the pepper, cover the pan and cook until the cabbage wilts, 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the walnuts and balsamic vinegar and stir in the lentils.
- To serve, spread the lentil salad on a platter. Arrange the duck legs over the salad and serve immediately.
Once the duck fat has cooled slightly, strain through a fine-mesh sieve. Reserve the 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.