Braised Duck Legs For Idiots

The dish you see above is a dish from a four-star chef and yet it’s among the easiest you will ever prepare. It comes from Jean-George’s “Cooking at Home with a Four-Star Chef” which was co-written by Mark Bittman. As many of you know, Mr. Bittman is The Minimalist and it might seem strange, at first, that a man who prides himself on simplicity would co-author a book with a chef renowned for his complexity, innovation and flair. But this recipe proves that two opposing forces, working together, can generate electricity: it’s astonishingly good and amazingly easy. Click ahead and behold the splendor of Jean-George’s Braised Duck and Vegetables with Asian Spices.

This recipe is so simple, I don’t even need to reference the book. Watch:

1. Cut up a carrot, a stalk of celery, an onion and a knob of peeled ginger into tiny pieces and place in a saute pan: [the recipe also calls for chopped lemongrass here, but I couldn’t find it–if you have it, use half a stalk, peel it and finely mince];


2. Don’t mock my dirty stovetop;

3. Drizzle the vegetables with some canola oil (or vegetable oil or any other oil without a strong flavor);

4. Place four duck legs on top;

5. Oh ya, have your oven preheated to 350;

6. Sprinkle the duck legs with kosher salt and then a heavy coat of 5-spice powder;


7. Pop in the oven and walk away for TWO HOURS;

8. Two hours later take it out and it looks like this:


9. Let it cool until it’s cool enough to handle;

10. Pull the skin off the duck legs (nibble on it, it’s delicious) and then tear up the meat into small pieces;

11. Pour off the excess fat in the pan and then toss the torn-up duck meat back in with the vegetables;

12. Add chopped scallion, some more fresh chopped ginger and soy sauce. Stir it around and taste it: does it need more salt? More soy sauce? Mine needed a hit of acid, so I used some rice wine vinegar.


But that’s it! You serve it on top of rice and you won’t believe how good it tastes after such a small amount of work. I still can’t believe it. This is one of those recipes you keep up your sleeve for a cold winter’s night when you have work to do but you want to make something delicious. And you’ve just killed the family duck.

It’s a keeper.

35 thoughts on “Braised Duck Legs For Idiots”

  1. Ohh…I gotta try this one. I really love duck and wish it was a food that the average American ate more often.

  2. I hope you didn’t throw away that “extra fat”. Rendered duck fat is delicious, try roasting potatoes with it, you will see!

  3. Did you say add a “hit of acid” at the end? You’re a mad man AG! But props to you my psychedelic soul brother.

  4. Adam,

    This is a somewhat random question. I am looking to start up a blog and would love to know which version of typepad you use. Thanks!


  5. oh wow, this looks so good and easy! and the two hour cook time would be so great if you’re having a dinner party and wanted to get things done in advance! i love duck, too — this is definitely going on my list!

  6. Can anyone recommend a source of duck legs in the Washington, DC area? My on-line search hasn’t found one.

  7. Sounds convincing!

    Next time you need a bit of acidity try lime or lemon juice – its much better then rice vinegar!

  8. bcarter3, I found duck legs this morning at my neighborhood Giant. I went to Whole Foods too and they didn’t have them there – though I read somewhere that some locations do have them. I found them at Giant by the organic/kosher poultry section – super cheap too!

    I bought duck legs today and can’t wait to try this recipe tonight – thanks for sharing, Adam!

  9. Try your local “chinatown,” Adele. If there isn’t a butcher shop on one of the side streets I’d be very surprised. Sorry, bcarter3, I’ve never wandered around W.D.C. – too many politicians. They are a scary lot! Maybe someone out there in AG-fan-land who doesn’t like duck, knows of an online site that can help. Come on folks, give it up for duck lovers everywhere!

  10. Perhaps it’d help if I told you I got my duck legs right from my local Key Foods which carries D’Artagnan products? Maybe use the D’Artagnan website and see if D’Artagnan products are sold in your area. Good lucK!

  11. Can anyone tell me where to get duck legs in Brooklyn? Is this the Key Foods in Park Slope on 7th Ave.? THanks!

  12. hi adam, this book has been on my amazon wish list, along with all the other gazillion books. seeing your post i’ll have to move it forward. i haven’t made duck with asian flavors yet. this sounds good!

  13. FYI to all, I made this with chicken leg quarters and it was fabulous. I am sure duck would have been better but I didn’t go to the right market.

  14. Thanks for sharing the pics and recipe. Just tried it…Absolutely yummy…the lemongrass’s a must…livens and lightens up the dish.Whole house smells so great, with this cold rainy spring weather.

  15. Mine needed a bit of acid too so I sprinkled it with some LSD I had left over from 1969. You should see your dish under a blacklignt. Thanks for the recipe!

  16. I followed the directions explicitly. But the veggies got burned. The duck a little dry. I think it should either covered for part of the time, cooked at a lower heat, or for shorter time. The 5-spice powder was a great touch!

  17. I’m not a huge fan of 5-spice. Can you think of any other seasonings that would be good for this technique?

    1. Adam Amateur Gourmet

      I’m thinking something with cinnamon? Maybe a Moroccan spice mix? Anything will work, though, it depends on what you like!

  18. I made this tonight and it was absolutely delicious! The only moderations I made were tripling the celery and carrots and adding fresh garlic to the veggies and a touch of Maggi seasoning sauce at the end. It paired well with a Pinot Noir I had, which really brought out the flavors in the five-spice. Just fantastic and incredibly easy; just set it and forget it.

  19. This meal is absolutely delicious with duck or chicken! I triple the veggies and add more five spice, ginger and lemongrass than the recipe suggests. It’s so simple as well and I love that I can work out or clean while it cooks. Thank you so much for sharing!

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