By six o'clock yesterday morning, I had lunch cooking slowly in the crockpot. I had cut up some onions and carrots the night before, and trimmed and washed some mushrooms. The main course was going to be duck leg & thigh pieces.
I had noticed the duck pieces at SuperU over in Romorantin on Friday, when we drove over there (an 80 km or 50 mi. round-trip) to have a look around in a new Home Depot-type store called E. Leclerc Brico. We have a couple of home improvement projects in the works and wanted to look at a few things there.
Anyway, there was the duck. We're lucky to be able to buy duck when we want, either whole birds or parts. And it's not expensive. These leg and thigh sections cost about eight euros per kilogram, which is about $4.00/lb. There is no reason to pass that up. One way to prepare it is as confit — slow-cooked in duck fat — but this time I wanted to cook it with vegetables and wine.
What you do is melt just a tablespoon or two of duck fat in the bottom of the crockpot (or substitute vegetable oil, butter, or other fat) at high temperature. When the crock is hot, lay the duck legs skin side down on the bottom. Scatter sliced onions, cut-up carrots, and sliced mushrooms over all. Season with salt, pepper, bay leaves, and some allspice or cloves. Add some herbs like thyme, oregano, or parsley, either fresh or dried. Put the lid on the crockpot and let it cook on high temperature for an hour or so.
At that point, lift the lid and pour in about half a cup of white wine. (You could use red wine.) Push the mushrooms and other vegetables down into the cooking juices and wine so they will cook slowly that way. Put the lid back on and leave the duck to cook for at least another two hours. Then turn the heat down to low or even the "keep warm" setting and leave it until you are ready to serve and eat the duck and vegetables.
I thought it was delicious. You can do the same thing with chicken or turkey legs/thighs, or even with thick pork chops. I guess it's a classic French cooking method — wine with aromatic vegetables, herbs, and poultry or other meat, with some potatoes, sweet potato, or rice. And it's perfect food to enjoy on a cloudy, rainy, fairly chilly day. Yesterday, we had frequent rain squalls and hard downpours all day long, and a high temperature of about 67ºF.