Paleo Eats: 2/24/11

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Tonight I started another seven-night stretch of work. Hooray. Yep, my enthusiasm is palpable.

Since I’m never super hungry on my first night back, I didn’t eat until around 3:00 a.m. My “lunch” consisted of leftover mini frittata muffins that I microwaved for 30 seconds to take the chill off of them.

A couple hours later, I snacked on some macadamia nuts and coconut flakes (surprise, surprise).

My last big meal at work was a big helping of leftover crab salad over organic greens, shredded carrots, and roasted red bell peppers.

When I got off work, I went upstairs to check on my mother-in-law. She was already up, washed, and ready to be taken home. As we waited for her final discharge counseling, I polished off a container of Paleo trail mix.

As soon as we got home, I popped my vitamins and went straight to bed. While I slept, my parents went to pick up my winter “mystery” box from Mariquita Farm. For $25, I got a box chock full of yummy winter produce. Sorry I’ve got no picture for you but I was too lazy to take everything out of the fridge. I’m definitely looking forward to when the Two Small Farms’ CSA deliveries resume in March.

At 5:00 p.m., I woke up and started preparing dinner. Luckily, I already had a platter of braised duck legs waiting in the fridge so all I had to do was heat it up…

…and prepare some cauliflower fried rice (which was fried in rendered duck fat)…

…and broil big fat asparagus spears that I drizzled with balsamic vinegar.

Here’s my dinner plate:

After dinner, I fried up some ground beef and diced onions that I seasoned with Chili Con Carne seasoning so I’d have extra protein to pack for work meals. Then, I assembled my nosh for work and took off for the hospital.

Crispy Braised Duck Legs

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Want a great, make-ahead, easy-peasy duck leg recipe where the meat is meltingly tender yet the skin is crispy? Make this recipe and thank me later.

For this dish, I modified Molly Steven’s recipe for Duck Ragu with Pasta in her fantastic cookbook, All About Braising. In her version, she braises the duck in a tomato-wine sauce, shreds the meat, and tosses the meaty sauce with pasta. In my version, I braise the duck, store the dish in the fridge for a couple days, and then roast the whole legs in the oven so the skin crisps up on top. Super easy to prepare ahead AND delicious.

Here’s what I assembled to serve 4:

  • 6 duck legs
  • 1 14.5 ounce can of organic diced tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped into 1/2” dice
  • 2 carrots, sliced in 1/2” rounds
  • 1 celery stalk ,cut into 1/2” pieces
  • 4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 large sprigs of thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2/3 cup dry vermouth or white wine
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper

Here’s how I made the dish:

I assembled the ingredients…

…took out the duck legs from the fridge…

…and used my kitchen shears to trim the duck of as much fat as possible without cutting into the skin or the meat. I also cut off any loose flaps of skin but made sure the top of the leg was all covered with skin. Next, I seasoned the duck with salt and pepper on both sides.

I preheated the oven to 325 F.

Then, I browned the legs in a single layer in a large dutch oven over medium-high heat. As soon as the pot was hot, I placed the legs skin side down on the ungreased surface and seared for 7 minutes. I flipped them over and fried for 3-4 more minutes or until nicely browned on both sides.  I transferred the legs to another dish and repeated the process until all the legs were finished.

I poured out the drippings into a storage container that I stored in the fridge for other uses. Mmmm… duck fat!

I added 1 tablespoon of avocado oil to the pan and tossed in the onions, carrots, celery, garlic, and thyme sprigs with some salt and pepper. I sauted the vegetables for 7-8 minutes or until they were softened. I turned down the heat to medium so the veggies wouldn’t burn.

I added white wine/vermouth and simmered the sauce for 6 minutes or until the liquid was reduced by half. Then I added the chicken broth and simmered that until it was reduced by half. My last step was to add the can of tomatoes (including the juices) and simmered everything for 2-3 minutes to meld the flavors.

Once the sauce was done, I placed the duck legs on top, skin-side up and tucked in the bay leaves.

I added a piece of parchment paper and pressed it down until it almost touched the duck. I put on the cover and popped the pot in the oven for two hours.

When the legs were finished braising, I transferred the dish to a storage/baking dish and put it in the fridge. I made sure the sauce was on the bottom and the duck legs were on top, skin-side up. You can store the braised duck in the fridge for a couple days.

When I was ready to serve the duck, I preheated my oven to 400 F on convection roast and I stuck the dish on the middle rack and let it bake for 25 minutes.

The skin gets nice and crispy and the meat is really tender and delicious. Yummy!