Cooking Duck Legs

By Christopher Hirsheimer

Published on March 14, 2002

Duck breast should be served rare—tender, pink, and rosy—because its flesh is very tender. The legs and thighs (which the bird uses to walk around with when it's not on the wing, after all) get a lot more use, so need more cooking to tenderize them. French chefs know how to deal with this disparity: Roast the duck only until the breast is medium rare, then take the bird out of the oven, carve off the legs and thighs, and return them to the oven for up to 30 minutes more, while a first course of juicy duck breast is being sliced and served. Then present the rich, crispy extremities, whole or sliced, with a lightly dressed salad of young lettuces.

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