Duck Legs with Potatoes

A tasty Italian supper. Simple and little effort from a preparation perspective. Takes about 2 hours elapsed time but this is just the length of cooking time. The duck legs end up with a crispy skin and moist leg meat, which works well with creamy roasted new potatoes, cooked in the duck fat.
Serves 4 (It’s one leg per person, adjust accordingly)
Ingredients
  • 4 duck legs
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 600g new potatoes, peeled
  • Leaves from a sprig of sage
  • Leaves from a few sprigs of rosemary
  • 4 tablespoon brandy or grappa or Marsala (optional)
Method
  1. Put the duck legs in a large baking dish or roasting tin, skin side up. Season with salt and pepper and prick them all over with a pointed knife. I find a generous rub of Maldon sea salt to be perfect. It’s delicious, salty, crisp skin you’re aiming for.
  2. Put the dish in a preheated 180ºC/160ºC fan/gas 4 oven for 1½ hours. Depending on the size of the duck legs you might want to reduce this by 15-20 mins. You just have to judge, they do take at least 90 minutes to cook properly.
  3. In the meantime, cook the potatoes in boiling salted water until only just tender, about 10 minutes, then drain and cut them into ½ or ¼ depending on their size. Let them steam dry before you add to the roasting tin
  4. Take the dish out of the oven. Lift the legs out on to a plate. If there is way too much fat then remove some, but with two legs, for example, I find its OK.
  5. Put in the potatoes and stir them so that they are well covered with duck fat. Return the duck legs to the tray, skin side up, pushing the potatoes to make room for them. Spoon a little fat over them, put a sage leaf or two and a few rosemary leaves under each leg.
  6. Return to the oven and continue to cook at 180ºC/160ºC fan/gas 4 for about 15-20 minutes.
  7. Then turn the temperature up to about 180C fan or 200C normal. Scatter a generous amount of chopped rosemary needles over the potatoes and duck. They need about 5-10 more minutes.
At the end of the cooking, the duck skin is crisp and brown and the meat is soft and comes away from the bone easily. Sprinkle some salt on the potatoes before serving or let each person do individually.
10 minutes before the end, if you like, pour a tablespoon of brandy/grappa/Marsala etc over each duck leg.
Warm some pasta bowls to serve the food.
Serve by putting a duck leg in each pasta bowl. Get your guests to shred the meat off the bone and discard the bone. Then spoon in potatoes etc from the roasting pan which you have placed in the middle of the table.
Variants:
  • Add a few decent sized carrot chunks to the potatoes and roast them with the potatoes
  • Add some fresh garden picked, blanched, broad beans two minutes before serving. They will be emerald pieces of deliciousness.