The City Magazine Since 1975

Duck Breast & Braised Duck Leg with Grits and Root Vegetables

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  • 2 whole ducks, cut into pieces
  • 1 Tbs. canola oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 large parsnip, large dice
  • 1 large carrot, large dice
  • 2 white or purple potatoes, large dice
  • 1 celery root, peeled, large dice
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 yellow onion, cut into wedges
  • 4 cups chicken or duck stock (or substitute water)
  • Fresh sage, minced, for garnish
  • Brine

  • 2 qts. water
  • 1/2 cup salt

  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 10 black peppercorns, crushed
  • 1 Tbs. sugar
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Roasted Root Vegetables

  • 4 cups assorted roots and tubers (sweet potato, celery root, parsnip, carrot, white or purple potato), half-inch dice
  • 4 or more cloves garlic, unpeeled
  • Canola oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Grits

  • 2 cups white grits (Anson Mills grits are recommended)
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 325ºF. In wide sauté pan or brazier, heat oil over medium-high heat. Sprinkle duck legs and thighs with salt and pepper. When oil is hot, place duck legs and thighs in pan and sear on every side. Make sure not to crowd the pan—work in batches if necessary, removing cooked duck to resting plate. Put root vegetables, garlic, and onion in pan, arrange cooked duck legs among vegetables, and add enough stock to halfway cover the meat. Add any juice the legs shed on resting plate. Bring stock to simmer, then cover and place in oven for one hour or until meat is very tender and joints are loose.

Separate cooked meat, vegetables, and braising liquid. Remove leg meat from bone, purée vegetables with food mill or hand-held blender, and skim fat off liquid. Recombine meat, vegetable puree, and braising liquid. Allow to cool.

Three hours before serving: Mix all brine ingredients in a large non-reactive bowl or pot (glass, hard plastic, or stainless steel). Brine duck breast for two hours in refrigerator. Remove and rinse. Score skin of breasts without cutting into meat. Pepper meat on both sides.

Heat sauté pan over medium-high heat until pan is quite hot. Place boneless breasts skin-side-down into dry, hot sauté pan. Allow to cook undisturbed until breasts release easily from pan and skin is golden brown. Turn meat and cook one minute longer on other side. Remove to cutting board and allow to rest.

Gently reheat braised duck legs over low heat in a saucepan. Add a little water, if needed, to keep from drying out.

Roasted Root Vegetables
Preheat oven to 400ºF. Toss vegetables and garlic with oil, salt, and pepper. Spread
evenly on baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes or until lightly browned and tender.

Combine grits and water in pot. Stir grits vigorously and skim floating chaff from top of liquid. Add salt. Place pot over high heat until liquid begins to simmer and grits thicken. Lower heat and cover. Cook until grits are tender (about 45 minutes), stirring regularly to prevent sticking and adding water if necessary. Add cream to grits and cook a few minutes longer.

To Serve: Place grits in center of plate. Spoon braised duck legs and thighs over grits, then arrange roasted root vegetables over top. Fan sliced duck breast over legs and thighs. Garnish with fresh sage.