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Ducks, for whatever reason, hold a position of royalty in the poultry family. Chicken seems so mundane compared to duck. Turkey? Don’t even try. Ducks are by far the superior birdie, from their cute beaks down to their webbed little toes. These duckies were definitely happy, and you can taste it! Paying a little extra for good ducks goes a long way in the kitchen. Tonight’s ducks are from Pennsylvania, from a farm that has been breeding ducks, using ABF and humane practices (of course, it’s WECO…) for over 80 years. You can tell Joe Jurgielewicz and his sons know what they are doing. The rest of the dinner highlights the subtle sweetness and flavor that is inherent in ducks: rich, earthy lentils, creamy and sweet sunchokes, and a bright salad of shaved fennel, mizuna, and frisee. Get in there!
For the duck leg:
These legs were cured for a day in brown sugar, salt, white pepper, and aromatics, then cooked in their own fat for four hours. We cooled them in the fat, and then roasted them lightly to render the remaining fat from the skin. To prepare the ducks for your dinner, simply broil them on low for 3-5 minutes, or until the skin turns golden brown and crispy. Rest the duck legs on the herbs while heating for a little aromatic kick.
For the lentils:
These are my favorite type of lentils, a smaller, more firm variety called “beluga” lentils. Not really sure why they are called that, but it doesn’t matter. They’re delicious. To reheat, warm them in a small saucepot with a splash of water for 2-3 minutes over medium low heat.
For the sunchokes:
Sunchokes are incredibly painstaking to grow (and expensive!), because in order to produce a sizeable yield, the actual plants need to grow to almost ten feet tall. All that energy required to grow the plant is stored in the roots (the sunchoke), and that’s what makes them so tasty. It’s pure energy! To reheat, broil with the duck legs for a few minutes.
For the salad:
Simply dress this salad with the grapefruit honey vinaigrette (unlabeled container that isn’t hazelnuts), and top with the toasted nuts. That’s it!