This is a classic dish from the south west of France. The pairing of duck and lentils makes for perfect spring comfort food.
Cooked lentils remind me of my childhood. They have a distinctive aroma and flavour that conjures up fond memories and emotions. The prunes rehydrated in earl grey tea adds a particular sweetness and spice to the resulting duck jus.
Ingredients and Methods
- 8 pitted prunes
- 1 cup earl grey tea
- Good quality sea salt
- Pepper mill with a belly full of peppercorns
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 4 duck legs, trimmed of excess fat
- 1 bay leaf
- 4 sprigs of thyme
- 150ml White wine
- 100ml Port
- 1 tbsp grated ginger
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 4 star anise
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 tbsp tamari
- 1L beef stock or brown chicken stock
- Pea tendrils or chervil leaves as garnish
- 1 bunch baby beetroot
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup Du Puy lentils or French style lentils
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 carrot peeled and finely chopped
- 4 cloves
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 sprigs of thyme
- 1 tbsp grape seed oil
- 1 tbsp hazelnut oil
- ½ cup parsley, dill and chervil, finely chopped
- 3 tbsp vinaigrette
* Good quality dried pulses and legumes should not take too long to cook al dente.
Marinate duck legs with bay leaf, thyme, wine, port, garlic, ginger, spices and tamari for 4 hours in fridge. Drain duck & pat dry. Reserve marinade.
Macerate prunes in boiled earl grey tea. Set aside to slowly rehydrate.
Pre-heat oven to 160ºC. Pour oil into pan and brown duck legs skin side down with a good pinch of sea salt over medium high heat for five minutes. Turn and sear other side with another pinch of sea salt for 3 minutes.
Drain duck legs and discard oil. Transfer onto an ovenproof deep dish with reserved marinade, stock, prunes with tea and a few good turns of the pepper mill. Cover with foil and slow cook in oven for 3 hours until meat is super tender. Put duck legs aside and keep warm. Pour cooking liquid into a saucepan and reduce over medium low heat to a syrupy jus, skimming away impurities.
Trim baby beetroots and cook in salted water until they are easily pierced with the end of a knife. Cool and peel then toss in extra virgin olive oil.
Rinse lentils under cold water. Drain, transfer to a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and skim white foam from surface. Reduce the heat & simmer. Add a bay leaf, thyme, carrot and garlic studded with cloves. Cook for 15-20 minutes until al dente.
Strain lentils discarding bay leaf, thyme, garlic & cloves. Cool 5 minutes and toss with grape seed & hazelnut oil. Season with salt and pepper.
Fold chopped herbs and vinaigrette into lentils. Spoon onto serving plates and top with the warm duck legs. Place baby beetroots around duck and spoon over jus. Garnish with pea tendrils or fresh chervil leaves.