Pomegranate and Vanilla, Braised Duck Legs
Duck legs braised in Pomegranate Juice and vanilla essence is the final dish in our duck-stravaganza!
With this luxurious and flavourfull final installment, this series of posts has earned the title. But before the braising, there was the brining. It is not a requirement that you brine, but we decided to since we wanted a very soft end result. After all, those paddlers work up quite a bit of muscle.
Apart from the saltwater solution, we infused our brine with bay leaves, peppercorns, whole aniseed and dried #satsuma zest.
Less a brine and more an aromatic spice bath, we left the legs soaking for about five hours. You could do it overnight but it is really not necessary and may not be the best idea.
We are fresh food lovers so we juiced a pomegranate. The only purpose of this picture is an esthetic one. Pomegranates are beautiful and looking at some fresh, ripe arils can only do good. A great deal of it.
Braising meats pretty much almost always starts with a searing. Braising anything for that matter. And trust me, nearly anything and everything can be braised and that is a wonderful thing! We seared the duck legs fat side down since this is what will produce the fond which adds the rich flavour to your braising liquid of choice. In this instance, its fresh pomegranate juices and vanilla.
After 90 minutes in the oven in a large saute pan we have some soft and succulent duck. Even more exciting was the nice amount of rendered duck fat we have from this little food excursion. After straining off the duck fat, we reduced the remaining pomegranate and vanilla with the fond and made it into a lovely gravy. We served it atop our Browned-butter, leek and potato purée.
- 2 Duck Legs excess fat trimmed
- 1 large pomegranate juiced (1 cup or 250mL of juice)
- 1 tbsp vanilla essence
- 1 tsp mirin
- Sugar and salt to balance
- 2 L water
- 1/4 c salt
- Satsuma mandarin Zest
- 2 Bay leaves
- 4-5 peppercorns
- 1 tsp whole aniseed pods
- Saute pan with cover
- Food processor
- Bowls for brining duck and collecting pomegranate juice
- Rinse and pat dry the duck legs and place into a large bowl or a resealable plastic freezer bag
- Pour brine solution either in the bag or over the duck legs if using a large bowl
- Allow to brine for 3-5 hours
- Once brining is finished, remove duck legs from brine and trim excess fat
- Preheat oven to 350-375F (180-190C).
- Prepare Pomegranate juice by de-seeding, straining and pureeing
- Pass through a sieve and allow to strain. You should have 1 cup (250 mL) of liquid
- Add vanilla essence, mirin and balance with salt and sugar. The final result should have a bit of smoke and must to it.
- Heat a large sautee pan and once the pan is very hot place duck legs, fat side down in the pan and allow to sear.
- Flip and sear on other side once it the fatty side is well browned. This may take some tugging.
- Once both sides are well browned return duck legs to fat side in the pan and pour in pomegranate juice.
- Scrape fond from the bottom of the pan and bring to a boil.
- Cover duck legs and place into preheated oven and allow to braise checking intermittently to wet the duck and to scrape the fond.
- Once duck has reached an internal temperature of 155F (70C) remove from pan and tent monitoring until it reaches 165F (74C).
- Strain off the duck fat and save.
- Reduce the remaining pomegranate juice. It may have congealed some and separate from the fat. Reconstitute with a bit of water and whisk until it is smooth again.
- Reduce until desired thickness is reached.
- Drizzled over duck legs and served atop side of your choice.
- Cook until very tender and falling off the bone if you do not have a thermometer.
- Brining time was 3 hours.