Mark Bittman said, "If I were you and could get my hands on duck legs, I would make this dish as soon as I had the time—it's that good." So I did. Luckily, I live near John Dewar, purveyor of fine meats and other gourmet delicacies. This dish was absolutely delicious, delivering on Bittman's promise: "The result is crackling skin covering sublimely soft meat." Now I will urge you to make it. We served it with brown rice pilaf, which was a nice counterpoint to the very rich meat and veggies. (No, we did not share this one with the kids.)
Crisp-Braised Duck Legs with Aromatic Vegetables
4 duck legs, trimmed of excess fat
1 large onion
1/2 pound carrots
3 celery stalks
2 cups chicken stock
1. Put duck legs, skin side down, in a skillet large enough to accommodate all ingredients comfortably; turn heat to medium. Heat oven to 400°. Brown duck legs carefully and evenly, sprinkling them with salt and pepper as they cook. Meanwhile, peel and dice vegetables.
2. When legs are nicely browned, turn them over and sear for just a minute or two. Remove to a plate; remove all but enough fat to moisten vegetables. Add vegetables to skillet along with some salt and pepper. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until they begin to brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Return duck legs to pan, skin side up, and add stock; it should come about halfway up duck legs but should not cover them. Turn heat to high, bring to a boil, and transfer to oven.
3. Cook for 30 minutes, then lower heat to 350°. Continue to cook, undisturbed, until duck is tender and liquid reduced, at least another half hour. The duck is done when a thin-bladed knife pierces the meat with little resistance. When done, duck will hold nicely in a warm oven for another hour. Serve hot.