A tangy-sweet pear gastrique complements a full-flavored duck confit, making this recipe suitable for any Sunday supper. With the arugula salad and roasted Cipollini onions, this dish is nearly a full meal in and of itself. Start early when cooking this dish, as the duck legs need to cure in the confit for three full days.
Duck Confit with a Pear and Cabernet Franc Gastrique and Roasted Cipollini Onions
FOR THE CONFIT
1 head of garlic
1/2 pound salt
3/4 pound granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground allspice
3/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoons ground cloves
4 sprigs of thyme
4 bay leaves, ripped in half
4 Gansz Farms duck legs and thighs
FOR THE ONIONS
1/2 pound Cipollini onions
FOR THE GASTRIQUE
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
2 cups balsamic vinegar
1 cup Finger Lakes Cabernet Franc
4 cups peeled and diced pear
1 bunch Bolton Farms arugula
Extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
Make the confit: Peel the garlic and lightly crush the cloves with the back of a chef’s knife. Mix the salt, sugar, allspice, cinnamon and cloves together. Sprinkle a 1/4-inch layer of the salt into the bottom of a container that will just fit the four legs. Top with 1/2 of the garlic, 2 sprigs of thyme and 2 bay leaves. Nestle the duck legs into the container, and top with another 1/4-inch of the salt, then the rest of the garlic, bay and thyme. Cover and refrigerate for three days.
Preheat the oven to 400°. Peel the onions and toss with just enough olive oil to coat them. Roast them on a baking sheet until browned and tender, about 30-35 minutes. Meanwhile, make the gastrique: In a stainless steel pot, caramelize the sugar over medium-low heat. When the sugar starts browning at the edges, begin stirring with a wooden spoon. Once the caramel is lightly browned, carefully pour in the water and trade in the wooden spoon for a whisk. Pour in the vinegar and wine and stir to distribute. Cook until the liquid is reduced by half. Stir in the pears and cook until thickened. Keep at room temperature.
Rinse the duck legs and pat dry. Heat a heavy pan over medium-high and sear the duck legs, skin-side down, until the skin is brown and crispy. Flip the legs and brown the flesh side, then transfer the duck to a Dutch oven. Pour any rendered duck fat from the pan over the legs, and cover with the lid or a piece of foil.
Roast the duck at 400° for 40-45 minutes, or until a paring knife can easily pierce through the flesh of the duck legs with no resistance. While cooking, the fat should be barely bubbling. If it is boiling instead, adjust the temperature down.
To finish the dish, heat the duck legs and onions in the oven just until warmed through. While duck and onions are heating up, toss the arugula with the balsamico, olive oil, salt and pepper. Divide the salad between four plates, and top each with a duck leg and some onions. Top with gastrique.
Recipe by Art Rogers, Lento Restaurant.