The other night I grilled some duck legs. Duck seems more popular in Italy than it is in the US, especially in some parts of Tuscany and the Veneto.
Duck legs are less expensive than the breast, and can be turned easily into a reasonably priced meal. It’s rich, so you don’t need much; one leg per person is plenty.
Here’s the whole, complicated process. I rubbed the legs with some crushed garlic and some thyme and sprinkled them all around with salt.
Then I started the charcoal in the grill, piled the briquettes all on one side, then threw in a hunk of hickory that had soaked for a half hour or so.
I put the legs on the part of the grill that didn’t get direct heat. I closed the lid and went to watch the ball game while Martha worked in the garden. The slow heat and bit of smoke will allow the duck to cook but not toughen up like quick cooking will. Plus, all the fat will render and fall to the cooler bottom of the grill, so no flare ups. The resulting meat can be cooked hot at the end to brown because it’s lost most of its fat in the slow cooking stage.
When Martha came in from weeding about an hour later, I sliced up some squash and stewed it in some olive oil with a clove of chopped garlic and a couple anchovies. By stewing, I mean I cooked it slowly so nothing browned.
Then I transferred the duck legs to a spot directly over the coals to brown them while Martha diced some heirloom tomatoes and added some salt, some basil from the garden and some good olive oil.
And there you have it. You can eat good and slightly exotic for very little money or work.
I mention this kind of cooking because one of the excuses people make is that things take too long. Yes, we were darned near 2 hours with this dish. But hey, more than half of that time was spent watching the ball game. Yes, you can cook while your team loses. Just watch the fingers. Knives like them.
Ok, this is filed under recipes. But there’s no real recipe. I could have rubbed the duck with rosemary. I could have added some wine to the summer squash. What you have on hand is often more than good enough.