Sunday Suppers at Lucques
For the last dinner of 2006, I braised a bunch of duck legs. I started out by making some fresh stock, using a duck carcass I'd saved from some months ago. I seared the duck legs in olive oil until nicely brown, and then braised them for about 3 hours in the chicken stock and two cups of Banyuls along with a skillet-ful of carmelized onion, carrot, and fennel and lots of thyme.
Banyuls is a fortified, sweet, grenache-led red wine. I didn't know, either. It's good with chocolate, too.
After the braise, the duck legs were crisped in the oven while I strained and reduced the sauce. With the duck, we had a nice gratin of potatoes, turnips, and prunes, baked in cream and seasoned with some more thyme.
All of this is from Susan Goin's Sunday Suppers at Lucques , which has been my favorite cookbook of 2006 (winning by a nose over the wonderful Charcuterie: The Art Of Salting, Smoking, and Curing by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn, chiefly because I find it hard to wait long enough to salt, smoke, and cure stuff). The book presents weekly dinner menus (for six) for each season of the year, featuring lots of interesting but accessible seasonal ingredients. The recipes are good but not fussy, ideal for a Sunday afternoon in the kitchen, and the food is very tasty indeed.