An Interesting Brined Duck Recipe

This recipe was just sent to me by one of my many few readers. I haven’t tried it yet, but it looks good, and a bit different. This is a rustic style that is very well suited to the bold flavors of duck.


Brine-Cured Duck with French Green Lentils

The recipe below is based on a dish made by Claude Udron, a partner in the restaurant Chez Philippe, in Marseillan, south of Montpellier. Udron is from Rennes, in Normandy, and this is a contemporary version of the duck he used to eat on his grandparents’ farm.

For brine
¾ pound kosher salt
(about 2 1/3 cups)
2 quarts cold water
6 bay leaves
12 fresh thyme sprigs or
½ teaspoon dried thyme,
8 fresh flat-leafed parsley sprigs
¼ teaspoon black peppercorns

a 5- to 6-pound fresh
White Pekin duck,
2 medium carrots
1 medium onion
1 whole clove
4 shallots
2 medium leeks (white parts only)
1 bay leaf
1 fresh thyme sprig
3 fresh flat-leafed parsley sprigs
a 6-inch square of cheesecloth
kitchen string
1 tablespoon rendered duck fat
or olive oil

Make a brine: In a 4-quart kettle combine brine ingredients and bring to a simmer, covered. Simmer mixture, stirring occasionally, until salt is just dissolved and remove pan from heat. Cool to room temperature.

With poultry shears or a sharp knife cut off wing tips and, if necessary, backbone of duck and discard. Trim excess fat from duck pieces, reserving it for rendered duck fat, if desired. In a large saucepan combine duck and brine. Marinate duck, covered and chilled, at least 8 hours and up to 1 day.

Cut carrots into 2-inch pieces. Halve onion and stud 1 half with clove. Trim shallots. Chop leeks. Wrap herbs in cheesecloth and tie into a bundle with kitchen string. Remove duck from brine and discard brine. Rinse duck well under cold running water and with a fork pierce skin all over to allow fat to drain. In cleaned large saucepan combine duck with vegetables and cheesecloth bundle. Add enough water to cover duck by 1 inch and bring to a boil over moderately high heat. Simmer duck, uncovered, adding more water as necessary to keep duck immersed, 1 ¾ to 1 hours or until tender.

Remove duck from liquid and discard liquid, vegetables and cheesecloth bundle. Pat dry duck and cool completely. Duck may be prepared up to this point 1 day ahead and cooled completely before being chilled, covered. Bring duck to room temperature before proceeding.

In a 12-inch nonstick skillet heat 1 tablespoon fat or oil over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking and brown duck skin sides down (use caution; duck will splatter), until golden about 3 minutes. Turn duck and cook 1 minute more. (Alternatively, broil duck, skin sides up, in a shallow roasting pay about 4 inches from heat until golden brown.) Let duck stand 10 minutes.

Transfer duck to a platter and with a slotted spoon arrange lentil around it.

Serves 4 generously.

3 Replies to “An Interesting Brined Duck Recipe”

  1. For me, this is an iconoclastic recipe. It goes against – no shatters – all I hold dear about duck: the crispy skin and the unctious layer of fat residing just beneath. Yet, it is well known that the French love and appreciate their fowl. That, and the fact that this recipe is based on a cherished family meal memory makes me wonder. I’m hard pressed. Though, I am curious as to how this would work with wild duck which is much leaner. ….hmmmmm.

  2. I would be very careful with wild duck. My favorite preparation is simply to sauté the breast in copious amounts of butter and serve it on a chunk of fresh bread. That way it cooks quickly and doesn’t have a chance to lose whatever fat it may have, and the butter adds some lovely richness.

  3. Wild duck does pose a challenge. When it comes to butter, copious amounts is about right. I’ve usually quartered the bird, seared the skin sides, and then finished it off in the oven. It is a tough call. Next time I’m gifted a wild duck I’ll experiment. And yes, that’s a call for my hunting cohorts to fork over!

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