Duck legs make for a delicious and flavorful meal that is simple to prepare. With just a few ingredients and steps, you can have tender, juicy duck legs on the dinner table. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to cook duck legs to crispy, savory perfection.
1. How To Cook Duck Legs
- 4 duck legs
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
- 1⁄4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1⁄2 cup chicken or duck stock
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- Large skillet
- Aluminum foil
Step 1 – Prepare the Duck Legs
Rinse the duck legs under cold water and pat them completely dry with paper towels. Use a sharp knife to score the skin and fat of the duck legs in a crosshatch pattern, which will help render the fat and crisp up the skin. Season both sides of the duck generously with salt and pepper.
Step 2 – Render the Fat
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Carefully place the duck legs in the pan skin-side down. Cook for 8-10 minutes, occasionally spooning out some of the rendered duck fat. This will help crisp up the skin. Flip the duck legs and cook for another 5 minutes.
Step 3 – Roast the Duck Legs
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Transfer the seared duck legs to a plate. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the skillet. Return it to medium heat and add the garlic and thyme. Cook for 1 minute until fragrant.
Return the duck legs to the skillet skin-side up and nestle them into the garlic and thyme. Add the chicken stock and balsamic vinegar to the skillet. Bring it to a simmer then cover the skillet tightly with aluminum foil.
Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and continue roasting for another 15 minutes to crisp up the skin again.
Step 4 – Make a Pan Sauce
Once the duck legs are done, transfer them to a plate and tent with foil to keep warm. Make a quick pan sauce by simmering the cooking juices from the skillet over medium-high heat until reduced by half, about 5-7 minutes.
Step 5 – Serve & Enjoy
Spoon the reduced pan sauce over the crispy duck legs. Serve immediately with a side of mashed potatoes, roasted vegetables or a fresh salad. Enjoy your tender, flavorful duck legs!
2. Tips for Perfectly Cooked Duck Legs
Dry the duck legs very well before cooking. This will help ensure deliciously crispy skin.
Use a sharp knife to carefully score the skin and fat. Score in a crosshatch pattern about 1⁄4 inch deep.
Render the fat slowly over medium-high heat. Try to spoon out as much fat as possible to get super crispy skin.
Roast at a high temperature (400°F) to ensure the skin gets crispy and the duck legs are moist inside.
Let the duck legs rest before serving. The meat will be juicier and more tender.
Make a simple pan sauce from the flavorful duck juices and fat. Duck pairs well with sweet and tart flavors.
Don’t overcook! Duck legs are best medium rare to medium. Cook to an internal temperature of 165-175°F.
With these simple tips and flavorful recipe, you can make succulent duck legs with crisp, golden brown skin. The rich duck flavor pairs wonderfully with the tart balsamic and bright herbs. Enjoy this delicious meal on a cozy night at home. Let us know how your perfectly cooked duck legs turn out!