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Braised duck legs very tough

Made David Tanis wine-braised duck legs (NYT- http://www.nytimes.com...) but legs were very tough. (1) Did I over cook? Too high temperature? (2) Any way to rescue leftovers? Sauce was fantastic. Duck legs were from D'Artagnan.

asked by jimmyray over 1 year ago
12 answers 2526 views
Monita_photo
Monita

Monita is a Recipe Tester for Food52

added over 1 year ago

Did your duck legs weigh what the recipe called for? If they were smaller, then the cooking time may have been too long. Your oven may have been actually hotter than 400. Duck legs can be tricky. If the flavor is good why not shred the meat and serve in a salad or make sandwiches with it

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added over 1 year ago

Thanks for your thoughts. Duck legs weighed just what recipe called for (1 lb. each). Your idea of the oven being hotter than what we set for is certainly possible and/or the braising on top of the stove top may have been at a higher heat than called for. We will shred the leftover duck (eating our "mistakes") and use in the sauce either as is or over pasta.

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Pegeen

Pegeen is a trusted home cook.

added over 1 year ago

@jimmyray possibly you want to check your oven with an oven thermometer? It's frustrating not to have dishes turn out more closely to what's planned, especially when the ingredients are expensive or preparation is time-consuming.
Not to shill for vendors here, but I just got an email from Thermapen today about a 2-day sale on their oven and meat thermometers. They do make reliable equipment.

http://www.thermoworks...

Chris_in_oslo
Greenstuff

Chris is a trusted source on General Cooking

added over 1 year ago

Long, slow cooking is the key to tender duck legs, and undercooking rather than overlooking is usually the problem. I'd put them back in the oven at 300 or 325. Make sure they have whatever broth you were braising them in. (I didn't check out the Tanis recipe, but I cook a lot of duck legs.)

Dscn2212
boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

added over 1 year ago

I agree with Greenstuff. The term "braise" and 400 degrees seem mutually exclusive. I'm not sure you can resuscitate them at this point; repurposing them is probably a better idea. For future reference, though, I'm just posing a guess that 400 degrees was a misprint not caught, and that 300 degrees is more likely the correct temperature.

Dscn2212
boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

added over 1 year ago

I agree with Greenstuff. The term "braise" and 400 degrees seem mutually exclusive. I'm not sure you can resuscitate them at this point; repurposing them is probably a better idea. For future reference, though, I'm just posing a guess that 400 degrees was a misprint not caught, and that 300 degrees is more likely the correct temperature.

Waffle3
added over 1 year ago


I think there is some confusion here. That's a browning / rendering step @ 400F -- the braise follows. (It's worth noting that a braise cannot, by definition, achieve temperatures above the boiling point no matter how high the oven is set.)

If the duck was tender after step #4, it was overcooked in step #5. If not, the problem may stem from the instruction to test the meat with a paring knife. There's a reason braises are described as "fork tender" not "knife tender".

Dscn2212
boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

added over 1 year ago

Ok, I finally took the time to actually read the recipe. I suspect the flaw is in the initial roasting for 45 minutes at 400 degrees. That is far too long. Next time, just keep an eye on them and turn them as the top and sides begin to brown so that the bottom side can brown.

Chris_in_oslo
Greenstuff

Chris is a trusted source on General Cooking

added over 1 year ago

Wow, you are right, 45 minutes at 400 isn't the way I'd go. I found another David Tanis duck leg recipe on the web. That one calls for 10 minutes at 400 and 40 minutes at 375. My standard method is one and a half to two hours at 325. Even with only a little liquid, they do not dry out (and they do get brown).

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added over 1 year ago

Thank you for all the comments and suggestions. From the comments here and from other recipes it seems appropriate to go "low and slow" for the next time. Meanwhile, I have emailed Mr. Tanis c/o his own web site to see whether he has any thoughts. I'll post with an update if I hear back.

Dscn2212
boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

added over 1 year ago

That would be good to know; thanks.

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added over 1 year ago

Mr. Tanis very kindly replied to me and said that his recipe was tested and correct as written. Here is what he wrote: "Unfortunately, there are so many variables that it's a little difficult to diagnose the problem. Every oven and stovetop is different, and it is possible the heat in the oven was too high or the flame for the simmering was too low. I wish I could have been there to help. My guess is that the initial simmering (after the initial roasting) was not successful, i.e. perhaps you should have cooked the legs longer in the pot to achieve the required tenderness before the final cooking in the oven. I can assure you that when I tested the recipe, it was followed to the letter, and the results were completely satisfactory. And re-heated the next day it was also very good. However, Muscovy legs do not necessarily get to the falling-off-the-bone stage, nor was that the intent. But certainly they should have become tender."