Braised Duck with Prunes and Armagnac
- 2 Muscovy ducks, approximately 4 pounds each, quartered and trimmed of excess fat
- 3 teaspoons salt
- 1 1/4 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 5 shallots, peeled and split in 1/2
- 3/4 cup diced carrots
- 3/4 cup diced onion
- 2 fresh bay leaves
- 3 fresh rosemary sprigs
- 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup red wine
- 3 cups dark or light chicken stock, preferably home-made
- 1/3 cup Armagnac, plus 2 tablespoons
- 24 prunes
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. On the stove set a large oven proof roasting pan over medium-high heat.
Meanwhile, season the ducks with 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon black pepper.
When the pan is hot add the duck pieces, skin side down, and sear for about 6 minutes.
Turn the heat down to medium and continue cooking for another 4 to 5 minutes, until skin is crisp and golden brown. Turn over and cook on the second side for 4 minutes. Remove to a baking sheet and set aside.
Drain off the excess fat from the roasting pan into a glass measuring cup. Wipe out roasting pan with paper towels, and return to the stove and set over medium heat. Add 4 tablespoons of the reserved duck fat to the pan and then the shallots, cut side down, along with the carrots, onions, bay leaves and rosemary sprigs. Saute the vegetables and aromatics for 5 to 6 minutes, then stir in the flour. Cook, stirring, until a light roux is formed, about 4 minutes. Whisk in the red wine, chicken stock and the Armagnac. Season the sauce with remaining teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper then simmer for 3 or 4 minutes. Return the seared duck pieces to the sauce, skin side up, and add the prunes. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake in the oven for 45 minutes. Then turn the duck pieces over to skin side down and continue to bake for 45 minutes longer, or until the meat is very tender.
Transfer the duck pieces to a large warmed serving platter and then stir the remaining 2 tablespoons of Armagnac into the sauce. Pour the sauce into a warm sauce boat and pass along with the duck, taking care that each guest gets a few prunes and a piece of shallot.