This is a recipe that I mostly made up yesterday. I had seen duck leg-and-thigh pieces for sale at SuperU, and I also noticed a package of parsnips. I needed carrots too, and these are the ones I found. They're sold as « carottes des sables » ("carrots grown in sand").
Selling sandy carrots as healthier and more flavorful seems like a gimmick to me, but I guess not washing the carrots after they are pulled out of the ground keeps them from absorbing water and tasting watered down. They are harvested by hand, the package says, and not by machine. Here's what they looked like peeled and, yes, washed.
You probably know what parsnips (below) look like. These are alread peeled. Parsnips have been slowly coming back on the market in France in recent years and are called a « légume oublié » — a "forgotten" or heirloom vegetable. They are like sweeter, starchier, white carrots, really.
I sliced the carrots and cooked them first, in just a little bit of water in a pot on top of the stove. When they were tender, I took them out, set them aside, and cooked the parsnips, cut into larger pieces, the same way and in the same water. I saved that water to use it as a braising liquid for the duck. Oh, and here's the duck. I cooked just two leg-and thigh-pieces, called just « cuisses de canard » in French.
The first step in cooking them was to brown them, skin-side down, in a lightly oiled pan on top of the stove. Don't worry — they will make their own fat. I wanted the skin nicely browned.
When the skin is browned, turn the duck pieces over and add a sliced onion, along with some salt and pepper, to the pan. Cover the pan for a minute and let it continue cooking on low heat to soften the onions. Then take the cover off and set the pan in a hot oven. When the onions look cooked, pour in about a cup of the parnsip-carrot broth, mixed with some poultry stock and white wine as you like. You don't want to cover the duck with liquid, because you want the skin to stay brown and kind of crispy.
I almost forgot the figs. These were cooked months ago and had been stored in the freezer ever since. After the duck cooked in the broth for half an hour, I added the figs and the cooked carrots and parsley to the pan.
And there it is. After browning, the duck needs to be braised for an hour or so altogether. Mine could have stood to be cooked even longer (next time...) — it would have been more moist and tender. You know, you could make this same recipe using one or two turkey thighs or 4 to 6 chicken thighs. The figs, parsnips, and carrots give a nice sweetness to the braising liquid, which you serve as a sauce.
P.S. Those are a few leftover steamed potatoes on top, just heated through at the end... not required but good too.)