yields: two giant brunch sized sandwiches, you could split it between four people honestly
I feel like when you’re presented a whole duck, the breasts are naturally used for some seared entrée and then the legs are always cured, and cooked in fat. This process of curing, and then cooking in fat is called “confit”. By now everyone has heard of it, and likely eaten it. While absolutely delicious, and a definite option, I figured we could open our eyes to another application. We’re going to take our legs, and braised them in apple cider and stock. Once cool, we’ll shred and apply like ham inside of a classic croque-madame. This is the official hangover cure in our home. Especially if you know you’re going out, and can braise and shred the legs the day before. The process is very simple and there are four stages.
apple cider braise duck leg
- 2 duck legs
- 3 large shallots, peeled and quartered
- 2 cups of apple cider
- 2 cups of good, rich stock
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 bay leaf
- olive oil
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Season duck legs with salt and pepper. In an 8-quart Dutch oven heat up 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Sear the duck legs on each side for 2-3 minutes. Remove from the pan and toss in the shallots. Sweat the shallot quarters for 3-4 minutes. Pour in the apple cider and scrape up the fond. Add in the stock, cinnamon stick, and bay leaf. Nestle in the duck legs and cover with a lid. Place in the oven, and braise for 2-3 hours, until the legs are falling apart tender. Let cool in the liquid. Once cool, remove legs and shallots from the braising liquid. Shred the legs and shallots together, and moisten with braising liquid. A few tablespoons will be fine. Don’t through the liquid away! You’ve basically just super enforced some fall flavored stock. Plus, we need a little bit for the sauce. Save it for future projects as well. Moving on to stage two.
mornay, and grilled cheese stage
- 2 tbsp. butter, plus more for grilling that cheese y’all
- 1 tbsp. flour
- ¾ cup of milk
- ¼ cup of reserved braising liquid
- 1 cup gruyere, shredded
- 1 cup comté, shredded
- 8-10 ounces shredded leg meat
- 4 big slices of the best darn sourdough you can get
- neutral oil
The basic process for a mornay is as follows. Roux to béchamel to mornay. Take 2 tablespoons of butter and melt and swirl in a pan over medium heat until foamy. Sprinkle in your flour, and whisk, whisk, whisk, until it looks like wet sand. Stir constantly and cook for about 2 minutes. Now grab your braising liquid. We’re going to pour this in slowly. If you dump it all in, you’ll get clumps that will lead to lumps and no one likes lumpy sauce. And a French chef will come to your house and beat you over the head with a spatula. Alright! So slowww goes. Then in the same fashion, slowly pour in the milk while whisking constantly. Boom, you made béchamel, minus the nutmeg. Next, we’ve got to cheese-ify that sauce. Grab your gruyere, and sprinkle in a handful at a time, whisking until combined before you add more. Taste the sauce for salt, I doubt it needs much, but you must always check yo shit. And there you go, certified mornay. Move that over to the back of the stove while we think assembly. Lay out your four slices of bread on a sheet pan. Butter all four sides liberally and then flip them over. Divide the shredded duck between two of the pieces of bread. On top of that give a good dollop of your mornay sauce. On top of that a fistful of shredded comté. This isn’t diet food. Get crazy. You’re hung-over remember? Finish the sandwich with the plain slices of bread, butter side up. Alright, now grab a large cast iron skillet, hopefully one that can accommodate both sandwiches at once other wise you’re batch cooking. Give it a good swirl of neutral oil, and turn over medium low heat. This is where the grilled cheese mentality comes into play. A grilled cheese takes patience. You want crispy buttery bread, and a hot melty interior. A super hot pan will give you a burned exterior and a cold inside. So take it slow! Once your oil is hot, place your sandwiches in, and turn the heat to low. Monitor it. Once your crispy, flip. Watch it. Smell it. Embrace it. Just kidding. Anyway, once the second side is golden brown, after about 3-5 additional minutes pull the sandwiches out of the pan and put them back on the sheet tray where we assembled them. On to the next phase.
The next few sections are so easy, you’re gonna kill it. Preheat your broiler for about 10 minutes. Most broilers are in the bottom of the oven, unless you’ve got one of the new jammers. Give each sandwich a good glob of the remaining sauce. Don’t spread it out, the broiler is going to do that, it’s cheese based remember? Place the pan under the broil, and keep an eye on it. We want it to bubble and brown, not burn. If you have the under the stove kind, you’ll likely have to rotate the sandwiches so that they melt evenly. Keep an eye on it, but also start considering your eggs. Remove when ready, the sandwiches will stay hot while you cook your eggs.
Grab a non-stick skillet that will accommodate two eggs, and not much else. I repeat, a NON-STICK skillet. No discussion. Give it a good healthy knob of butter. Heat over medium high heat. When the butter is nice and foamy, gently pour your two eggs in. One per sandwich. Unless you’re gonna do splitzies four ways. Then pick a pan that’s big enough for four eggs, or do two eggs twice. Same cooking technique. Alright so butters foaming, eggs are in. Lower the heat to medium, and cook gently. When the whites look mostly set, add in another pat of butter. Let it melt, and grab a spoon. Begin basting the butter over the egg, aiming for that stubborn bit of white closest to the yolk. Basting with the fat will cook this part of the egg, while leaving your yolk nice and runny. When they’re cooked, split down the middle and top each sandwich with a fried egg. Eat with a knife and fork. And heck, have a cold beer to wash it down with. Hair of the dog.