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My Duck Confit & Lentils

This French bistro classic is one of my favourites and Duck Legs are more economical that pricy Duck Breast. I mixed and matched a couple of recipes to get lots of flavour but avoid the ‘1/2 kilo of duck fat’ to make it easier on the calories too. It does take two hours to cook the duck legs so be prepared; however, it is a quick-quick-slow recipe- very straight forward to cook, ignore for 2 hours, then a bit more acitivity to finish off.... and it will reward your efforts. This serves 2, with extra lentils left over for another meal.

2 Duck Legs
6 cumin seeds
12 coriander seeds
3 juniper berries
big pinch of flaky sea salt
1 sprig of thyme
1 sprig of rosemary
1 garlic clove, sliced
100ml white wine

For the lentils:
1 scant tblsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped finely
2 carrots, peeled and chopped into a small dice
2 sticks of celery, chopped into a small dice
3 large handfuls puy lentils
A sprig of rosemary
2 sprigs of thyme
500ml chicken stock ( You could spoon some of the broth from the duck if you like)
500g spinach
A handful chopped parsley

Put the cumin and coriander seeds in a dry pan and toast until they are slightly coloured and aromatic, then crush in a pestle and mortar along with the juniper berries and salt. Add to a small frying pan (one that will take the duck legs snuggly) and add the thyme, rosemary and sliced garlic. Add the wine and stir to combine.

Place the Duck, skin-side up or down, in the wine. Cover the pan with a lid and place over a medium heat. As soon as the wine starts to bubble, turn the heat down to the lowest setting and cook for 2 hours with the lid on, checking occasionally that the liquid is just barely simmering. The fat in the duck skin will melt into the meat and keep it moist as it cooks.

About 40 minutes before the duck is ready, start on the lentils. In a saucepan, fry the onion, carrot and celery in the olive oil over a medium-high heat until softened. Add the lentils along with the stock (or some of the broth from the duck if you like) and herbs.

Turn down the heat and allow to simmer for about 20-30 minutes until softened but still with a bite. You will need to keep an eye to ensure the pan does not dry out and burn. It might need a splash more water towards the end. Just before the end of cooking, stir in the spinach, letting it wilt in the steam of the lentils.

When the lentils are cooked, take off the heat, stir in the chopped parsley and cover until the duck is ready.

After 2 hours, the meat on the duck legs will be incredibly tender. Drain off the liquid. To crisp up the skin, turn on the grill to high and, when it is hot, Put the Duck legs, skin side up under the grill for 5-10 minutes until golden and crisp.

Serve the duck with the lentils, maybe with some green beans alongside.

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