Quack Quack here and a Quack Quack there*

A couple weeks ago – yeah, I know I’m a little late on this – I found this recipe for braised duck legs on one of my favorite food blogs, Amateur Gourmet. I love duck with a passion, and I’m always looking for super simple new recipes. So I was intrigued by this one. It just sounded like the perfect accompaniment to the chilly winter weather: earthy, simple, and colorful.

Amateur Gourmet wasn’t lying – this really is the simplest dang recipe in the world to make. The AG says you need one onion, one stalk of celery, one carrot, and a knob of ginger. It looked like too little to me so I added another carrot and another stalk of celery. Even then, I could have added more veggies – I’m always a fan of more fresh ginger. The point is that this recipe is ideal for improvisation, which is always a plus in my mind. I didn’t have the lemongrass, which wasn’t missed at all, and I also didn’t have “five spice powder.” Instead, I used the “Thai seasoning” I had on hand and that worked brilliantly. You simmer all the vegetables, put the duck on top of them, and into the oven for 2 hours. Done. That simple, really. And WOW it tasted perfect.

The only problem was that I got my worst kitchen burn to date making this one. I used my stainless steel skillet so I could go from stovetop to oven without any problems, and I pulled the skillet out of the oven with my oven mitt and placed it on the stovetop. Then I put the oven mitt back in the drawer. But I’m so used to grabbing pans on the stove that I went to pick up the skillet with my bare hand, lifted it up, and received burning skin in return. Adam sprayed a ton of Bactine anti-burn stuff on my hand, I ran my hand under cold water, and I said every swear word in the book through clenched teeth. And I spent our entire meal with an ice pack on my hand to stop the throbbing. So not fun. But I don’t know – is it completely nuts that I sort of take pride in these moments? Like it’s a battle scar. It means I’m a serious cook because, you know, I’ve sustained injuries. See? Look, how hard-core I am! Yeah, I even got blisters. Rad, right?

And as if this amazing meal wasn’t enough, I was able to skim off all the rendered duck fat and keep it in the fridge for those roasted potatoes I had been dying to make. I roasted some Yukons up, all crispy with their duck fat-infused smokiness…and topped it off with crème fraîche, salt, pepper, and fresh thyme. Yeah, it was just as good as it sounds.

Bon appétit!

* God, I loathe coming up with titles for my blog posts. I'm going to start naming them like Friends episodes, i.e. "The One about French Milk" or the "The One about the Random House Summer 2008 preview."

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