I’ve done this recipe a few times now and whenever I have cooked it, they have gone down a treat! I love slow cooking meat – it just makes it so juicy and tender! There’s no way anyone could dislike it. And at this time of year, they are perfect meals as you can put them on before you go to work and have a sumptuous meal waiting for you upon return. Duck is a meat that is fatty, but easy to become dry and tasteless. Dry meat is the worst – it’s like trying to chew through leather. The legs are a cheaper cut and versatile. When I first tried this recipe, I was at work and to be honest, had no idea what I was doing with them. I made the recipe up on the spot and have adapted it since then to get the flavours and consistency right. I have served this meal at the restaurant where I work and they all sold and the customers absolutely loved them!
Cooking in a commercial kitchen is so different to cooking in your own home as you have to think about the customer, not what you like. But it’s always delightful when your food is well received as it just confirms that actually, I do know what I’m doing and I’m good at it (phew). But these are something that are perfect for a special occasion meal or if you have guests over – particularly over the festive period. The dish doesn’t take long to prepare and it can be adapted to your personal taste. The combination of port and date can be quite sweet, but I add balsamic vinegar and mustard to balance it out. This recipe is for 4 people, but you can adapt it according to how many people you are cooking for.
Prep time: 10 minutes.
Cooking time: 3 and a half hours.
- 2 red onions diced.
- 3 garlic cloves crushed.
- 2 carrots diced.
- 1/4 bottle of port.
- 200ml red wine.
- Star anise.
- 3 tbsp honey.
- 4 beef stock cubes.
- 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar.
- 1 tbsp dijon mustard.
- 2 bay leaves.
- 1 litre cold water.
- 200g dried dates.
- 1 tbsp dried mixed herbs.
- Salt and pepper to taste.
- 4 duck legs.
- Heat some vegetable oil in a large pan and sweat off the onion, garlic and carrots on a medium heat for 10 minutes.
- Add the port and wine. Reduce down for 10 minutes.
- Add the dates, herbs, balsamic vinegar, mustard, star anise, water and season with salt and pepper.
- Crumble the stock cubes into the mix and simmer for 40 minutes.
- In the meantime, in a separate cold pan, add the duck legs skin down first and brown off on both sides.
- Remove some sauce for serving and set aside in a jug. The duck legs produce a lot of oil and the sauce will become greasy so if some is set aside, then you will have some ready.
- Add the duck legs to the remaining sauce. Cook on a very low heat for 2 and a half hours.
- Just before serving, add the sauce you set aside to a small saucepan. Add some cornflour to thicken it and put it through a sieve. Add a knob of butter to make the sauce shiny.
- Serve with roast potatoes and vegetables.