Recipe | Five-spice duck legs

The beauty of slow-cooking is, in part, down to the aromas that slowly emanate from the oven as the food cooks. As these duck legs ticked over my nose was teased with the mellow notes of five-spice, garlic and onion. That it’s a dish that takes all of 5 minutes preparation and an hour or two’s patience is only a bonus.

Serves 2

2 duck legs

1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice

2 cloves of garlic, unpeeled and lightly crushed

1 onion, peeled and sliced

Olive oil, salt, pepper

- Preheat the oven to 170C. Rub the skin side of the duck legs with a generous pinch of salt and the five spice. Heat a little oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and add the legs, skin side down. Fry for 10 minutes until browned and crisp.

- Remove the legs and add the onion and garlic. Prod around the pan until coated in the duck fat, season with salt and pepper and lay the legs on top. Cover with a lid or tin foil, and pop in the oven for an hour and a half, until soft and yielding to the advances of a fork.

- Remove from oven and rest whilst you prepare your veg. In this case I par-boiled some sliced potatoes, fried them with the duck fat, and served them with some Chinese cabbage fried with mustard seeds, garlic and chilli.

20 thoughts on “Recipe | Five-spice duck legs

  1. Mmmmm i love duck in any shape or form but duck LEG, fried and then slow cooked is like perfect upon perfect. Looks and sounds divine!

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  3. Nice simple recipe. Easy to cook and with a tasty outcome. Used chinese noodles instead of potatoes stirfried with garlic, chilli and ginger plus onions and mushrooms. Cabbage better cooked with spring onion and seeded chilli for 3 mins, tsp of soy and generous dessertspoonful of Marmalade (your choice of flavour and strength) added and cooked for 1 min further. Much more fun to cook and eat.

    • Yes, maybe a bit ambiguous. On the whole ‘prep’ refers to chopping, measuring, peeling etc. Cooking does not fall under this bracket. Sorry if that’s not clear.

      • In my humble submission, browning is part of the preparation process, which continues until you put it all in the oven!

        I just made the dish – with variations – in the slow cooker. Seem to have run out of 5 spice so used star anise which we buy in bulk from the Chinese C&C. And a few more ingredients, all done whilst the frying happened.

        Just tasted. Very good!

  4. delicious!–one small problem: duck was done after 75 mins in oven, at which time onions and garlic were already slightly burned. cast iron pan a mistake? or shd I try longer at 10 degrees lower?

    • Hmm, yes I think cast-iron pan probably an error, as it retains so much heat so is going to keep on frying the onions. But 180C does seem quite hot. Perhaps 170C and non-stick next time! J

  5. The flavours are good but the timings are all wrong. The onions, exposed in the oven began to burn after only 20mins. I had to put a couple tablespoons of water in the pan, put a lid on it and lower the heat to 160c (fan). Also, the meat was cooked way before 1.5 hours.
    As I’d put a lid on, the skin was no longer crispy.
    Shame this recipe hasn’t been properly tested.

    • Thanks for comment Saz. The duck will be cooked sooner but a little longer doesn’t hurt. Well, not the duck, but clearly the onions. As I remember (it was some time ago) I put the duck directly on top of the onions so that the fat and the duck’s cover prevented burning. But have added an edit. Thanks.

  6. I found the same as Saz, the onion and garlic turned into charcoal but the flavours were great. Also the duck didn’t need so long in the oven. Just over an hour was more than enough. However, I guess this really depends on the size of the leg to start with. Really good and easy to do recipe though, I’ll definately be taking time out to perfect this.

  7. I just tried it – with amendments too (sorry James!)

    Fried the duck legs in a little sesame oil

    Used coarse cut shallots, green peppers and mushrooms as the base, added some chilli flakes, and 1tbsp of soy sauce before loading on the duck. drizzled a little honey onto the duck breasts 2/3rds of the way through cooking.

    The soy, honey and mushroom juices made a sauce that I then served with the duck over noodles.

    Great!

  8. Fantastic recipe! Followed the duck recipe to a tee and the it turned out beautifully tender and very tasty. Accompanied by Delia Smith’s slow braised red cabbage and Hugh Fearnly-Whittingstall’s potato rosti’s, the perfect Sunday lunch indeed.

  9. Pingback: Five Spice Duck Legs | The Boozy Rouge

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