This dish takes effort, but pays back in spades. It is truly a Bistro-quality recipe.
1 duck, split in half, backbone removed (use kitchen shears and cut on either side of the backbone)
2 additional duck legs
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon Herbs de Provence
2 large carrots, sliced into thick chunks
2 large leeks, washed, trimmed and sliced into chunks
2 ribs celery, washed and chopped into thick chunks
1 small bunch parsley
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
1tablespoon olive oil
Backbone of duck, split in half
Neck of duck (comes with the duck)
Big handful (about 18) ripe, cherry tomatoes, washed
1 yellow onion or 1 large leek, trimmed and chopped
5 cloves garlic, peeled, left whole
1 cup white wine
2 cups chicken broth
¼ teaspoon Herbs de Provence
Pinch of sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch (corn flour)
12 ‘gourmet’ green olives, really good quality, left whole
12 dried apricots, chopped
1) Pre-heat oven to 225C (450F). Pierce the skin of the duck and duck legs all over with the tip of a sharp knife or a fork (try not to pierce the meat beneath). Rub with Herbs de Provence and salt on both sides. Chuck the carrots, leeks, celery, parsley and rosemary into a roasting pan and place the duck, skin-side up on top of the veggies.
Roast in the oven for 10 minutes, then turn the heat down to 150C (300F), pour in 1 cup water and cover with foil and continue to roast the duck for about 2 and ½ hours more, until the meat is ultra tender.
2) While the duck is roasting, make the duck stock for the olive sauce: Brown the duck back pieces and duck neck in 1 tablespoon olive oil, over medium or medium-low heat until brownish (about 10 minutes). Pour out any rendered fat and toss in the cherry tomatoes, onion and garlic—sauté for just a minute—then pour in the wine and stock and sprinkle in the sugar and Herbs de Provence. Simmer gently for 1 hour. Mash the vegetables with the back of a fork. Pour the stock through a strainer into a container and allow to cool a bit then skim the fat off the top—there shouldn’t be much. Set aside.
3) After 2 and ½ hours braising time, remove the foil and crank the heat on the oven up to 200C (400F). Allow the duck to crisp up for about 10 minutes—use your best judgment, get it crisp, but do not allow to burn—duh… While the duck is crisping up, heat the duck stock in a pan. Pour ¼ cup cold water into a jar and add in 1 teaspoon cornstarch. Put the lid on and shake. Add this to the simmering stock to thicken a bit. Now add in the olives and apricots. Simmer just 10 or 15 minutes.
To serve: Pour the sauce on a platter and arrange the duck on top, then scatter the olives and apricot chunks over the duck. Serve with mashed potatoes, cous cous or brown rice. Serves 6