Slow Baked Duck Legs and Mashed Cauliflower

Roasted Duck Legs

I’m gettin’ fancy pants today here in the Guiltiest Kitchen around. BUT, I am attempting to reduce the guilt, as usual.

Sometimes, Mr. Guilty will be strolling through the meat department and out of the corner of his eye, he will catch a glimpse of something that must be had. Sometimes it is giant pork butt roasts so big they take up a whole grocery bag, other times they are large hermetically sealed packages of corned beef, and just sometimes, they are divine, plump little duck legs. Most of the time, I give him a quirky smile and tell him that it’s not on the menu, therefore not in the budget and we can’t buy it. Well, lately, hormones have been taking over. If he shows me something I know is bad, bad, bad food (Cheese Pleasers anyone?), I just can’t help myself. “Throw it in the cart!” I’ll mumble whilst racking my brain for appropriate recipes.

That is how we come to this recipe. Duck is a relatively inexpensive buy at our local grocer, but after considering the amount of fat that will cook off of it, one duck will feed the two of us. I always save the fat to cook with later, but we’ll talk about those adventures another time.

Duck legs can be bought individually and are a great addition to the family rotation. More flavourful than chicken, and almost entirely made up of dark meat, it is a favourite in this family. They do take a bit longer to cook, mind you, but it is well worth the effort.

Finding an appropriate side dish is sometimes a struggle for me, as I am always concentrating on the main dish. I have seen many recipes for mashed cauliflower or faux mashed potatoes, and almost all of them simply replace potatoes with cauliflower. They still use all the butter, cheese and cream in the world to make it taste more closely to the familiar mashed potato. I suspect though, that most people who are making mashed cauliflower instead of potatoes are trying to find healthier alternatives to the usually calorie and fat laden side dish. Which is why I finally tried making it again. I had made it once before using butter and a potato masher. What I came out with was soggy, smallish chunks of cauliflower bathed in butter. Delicious, but not at all similar to mashed potatoes in taste or texture.

This will now be my new healthier potato alternative for future meals needing starchy compatriots. It was amazingly easy and delicious without all the extra fat!

Slow Baked Duck Legs

2 Whole duck legs, bone in, skin on (thigh and drumstick)
1 tsp each dried oregano, marjoram, basil, rosemary and paprika
3/4 tsp each garlic powder and seasoning salt
2 Tbsp vegetable oil

Duck Legs Roasted

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. In a small bowl, mix together all ingredients (except duck legs) to form a spice rub.
2. Line a baking tray or roasting pan with aluminum foil and spray lightly with baking spray or rub with oil or butter. You could do this without aluminum foil, but I guarantee you will regret it come dish washing time.
3. Rub each leg with spice rub, making sure you get it in every nook and cranny.

Duck Legs Roasted

4. Place on baking tray and cover lightly in another layer of aluminum foil, slightly tented or the lid of your roasting pan.
5. Bake covered for 45 minutes.
6. Turn oven down to 350°F, uncover the duck legs and return to oven for another 50-60 minutes.
7. Remove from oven and let rest 5-10 minutes before serving.
8. Serve on a bed of mashed cauliflower (recipe follows).

Mashed Cauliflower (or Faux Mashed Potatoes)

1 medium to large sized head of cauliflower
1/3 cup light sour cream (or full fat)
2 cloves of roasted garlic (if you are making this with the duck, just throw it onto the baking tray for 15-20 minutes)
chicken stock
salt & pepper

1. Cut cauliflower into small florets and pack into steam tray over a pot of boiling water. Drain very well when done.
2. Steam for about 8 minutes to make it tender enough to mash.
3. In order to achieve a potato-like consistency, you will need to use a food processor for this next step, a potato masher just will not do!
4. In bowl of food processor, add cauliflower, sour cream and roasted garlic cloves.
5. Whirl until everything is annihilated, fully and completely, lumps are extremely undesirable in this dish…
6. Add salt and pepper to taste and enough chicken stock to make it the consistency you are used to.
7. At this point, if you don’t care about the health values of swapping potatoes for cauliflower, go ahead and drown it in butter, Parmesan and cream. Yum!

Duck Legs Roasted

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