Roasted Duck Leg over Two Grits
Duck quarters are cooked in layers of aromatic herbs and vegetables, then finished with dark brown sugar, country ham, and orange liqueur. The duck is served with two kinds of grits -- creamy grits spooned onto the plates, and grits cakes which have been coated in corn meal and fried in butter. Green beans are a simple accompaniment. The duck may be roasted a day ahead and stored in the refrigerator, confit-style, until ready to finish. Likewise, you could prepare half of the grits a day ahead and spread them in the pan as instructed for the grits cakes, chilling them overnight.
- Roasted Duck Legs
- Duck leg-and-thigh quarters - 4
- Red Onion - 1, roughly chopped
- Thyme Sprigs - 10 to 12
- Marjoram Sprigs - 6 to 8
- Whole garlic heads - 2, cut in half vertically
- Bay Leaves - 4 to 6
- Oranges - 2
- Fresh Ginger - 3 inches, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- Dry white wine - 1 cup
- Soy Sauce - 1 cup
- Stone-ground Grits
- Chicken Stock (see Cooking Basics) - 7 cups
- Stone-ground Grits - 2-1/2 cups
- Fried Grits Cakes
- Cooked stone-ground grits
- Yellow Corn Meal - 1-1/2 cups
- Unsalted Butter - 1/2 cup (1 stick)
- Green Beans
- Green (string) beans - 1 pound, stem ends snapped off, blanched
- Chicken Stock - 1/3 cup
- Unsalted Butter - 1/4 cup (1/2 stick)
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Country Ham Slices - 4
- Dark Brown Sugar - 1/2 cup
- Orange Liqueur - 1/4 cup
- Duck Stock - 1 cup
To prepare the duck: Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spread the chopped onion over the bottom of a deep baking pan or hotel pan. Place the duck quarters in a single layer on the onions. Cover with sprigs of thyme and marjoram. Add the garlic halves and bay leaves. Cut the oranges in half and squeeze the juice over the pan, then add the orange halves to the pan. Sprinkle ginger over the ingredients. Pour in the wine and soy sauce and cover the pan with foil. Roast for about 2-1/2 hours.
To prepare the grits: Bring 6 cups of the chicken stock to a boil in a large saucepan or a pot. Stir in the grits all at once. Bring the mixture back to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 1 hour. Remove from heat; keep warm.
Spray a sheet pan lightly with vegetable oil. Spread half of the grits over the pan; they should be at least 1/2-inch thick. Chill in the refrigerator until set, at least 20 minutes. Stir the remaining 1 cup of chicken stock into the grits in the pan, stir, and place over low heat on top of the stove to continue cooking.
To prepare the grits cakes: Remove the chilled grits from the refrigerator. Cut into thirds across the pan, and in half lengthwise of the pan. Cut each resulting piece in half diagonally to make triangular wedges. Use 8 wedges for this dish; the remaining wedges may be wrapped in plastic wrap and chilled for later use. Spread the corn meal in a plate or platter. Press the wedges into the corn meal to coat. Heat half of the butter in a large saute pan or skillet over medium-high heat and fry half of the wedges on one side until browned; turn and fry on the other side. Remove and drain on paper towels. Repeat with remaining wedges. Place in a warm oven.
To finish the duck legs: Place the roasted duck into a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the country ham and half of the sugar; stir the sugar around with a wooden spoon until it begins to melt. Crumble the remaining sugar over the duck and stir gently to melt. Take the pan off the heat and pour the orange liqueur over the duck. Place the pan back on the heat, avert your face, and ignite the liqueur. Let it burn down until the flames die out. Stir in the duck stock and simmer until the sauce is syrupy and coats the duck, 3 to 4 minutes.
To finish the green beans: Heat the beans with the chicken stock and butter in a medium saute pan or skillet until the beans are softened. Season with salt and pepper.
To serve: Stir the warm grits in the pan. Stand two grits cake wedges next to each other on one side of each plate. Lean a few green beans against the wedges; place more green beans on the plate at the base of the wedges. Spoon soft grits on the opposite side of each plate. Place a duck quarter between the soft grits and the grits cake wedges. Put the duck skillet back over medium-high heat and cook the sauce rapidly for 1 minute; pour sauce over the duck and around the grits cakes.