Duck Cholent

Duck Cholent

An update of a dish frequently made by eastern European Jews. Cooks overnight in the oven or a slow cooker.
Makes 4 generous servings

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4 duck leg quarters
1 cup dry cannellini beans
1/2 cup pearled barley
4 small to medium potatoes
1 TBL olive oil
1 small onion
1/2 head of garlic
1 branch of fresh rosemary or 1/2 TBL dried rosemary
several stems of fresh thyme or 3/4 tsp dried thyme
1 cup dry red wine
4 cups of duck or chicken stock
parsley, for garnish
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Note: Regarding portions, you may want to put more duck pieces in this recipe without increasing the other ingredients as it has a lot of beans, barley and potatoes for 4 servings.

To cook this in the oven, you will need a Dutch oven or cast iron pot with a ATTNtight-fitting lid. You can also make this in a slow cooker, although I have never made it that way.

Preheat the oven to 200º F, unless you will be using a slow cooker. Trim excess fat from

  • 4 duck leg quarters

In a skillet of suitable size, heat

  • 1 TBL olive oil

brown the duck legs, working in batches if needed and draining the excess fat as it accumulates. If you’d prefer to have a lower-fat version of this dish you can remove most of the skin and fat and skip the process of rendering the fat, although browning the meat a bit will make the finished dish look better. As the the duck is browned and the fat is rendered to your desired level, transfer duck pieces to a plate.

As the duck fat is rendering, peel and dice

  • a small onion (1/2 cup diced onion)

You can also prepare

  • 1/2 clove garlic

by peeling it and chopping it coarsely. ATTNKeep it separate from the onion for now.

Meanwhile, in the bottom of the Dutch oven or slow cooker place

  • 1 cup dry cannellini beans (ATTNdo not soak them)
  • 1/2 cup pearled barley
  • 4 small-to-medium potatoes, scrubbed, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces

When the duck been browned, transfer the pieces to a plate and remove all but 1 TBL of fat from the pan. The reserved fat is not used for this recipe, so you can discard or save it for something else. Over medium-low heat saute the chopped onion until it starts to become translucent, then add the garlic pieces and continue to saute for a couple more minutes. Transfer the cooked onion and garlic to the Dutch oven or slow cooker, and add

  • 1 TBL salt, ATTN See the Useful Information page (link at top). That’s Kosher salt!
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 TBL finely chopped fresh rosemary or 1/2 TBL dried rosemary
  • several stems of fresh thyme or 3/4 tsp dried thyme

Place the duck pieces on top of the other ingredients and add

  • 1 cup red wine
  • enough chicken or duck stock to come up to the mid-level of the duck pieces, about 4 or 41/2 cups.

Put on the lid and place in the oven. This will need to cook for about 10-12 hours (same for a slow cooker set on the low temperature) and don’t worry about the exact timing because if it’s done after 10 hours and cooks for 12, nothing bad will happen.

ATTN Some ovens have a safety feature that shuts them off running for an extended period of time. My oven shuts off after 12 hours. If you have such an oven (usually the ones with electronic displays and controls), pay attention in case it shut itself off overnight and just start it up again, making sure the food temperature has stayed warm enough to be safe.

When the 10-12 hours mark has been reached, open the cover and add salt/pepper if needed. Some people like to remove the duck pieces and take the meat from the bones, returning it to the cholent. The last time I made this the duck legs were small enough I could give each person their own.

This dish is much better the day after you make it. To reheat, place the Dutch oven in a 300ºF oven until heated thoroughly.

Serve in bowls, perhaps garnished with

  • chopped parsley

although my my used to say “gornisht helft” (“nothing helps”) when speaking of parsley garnishes.

Inspired by a recipe by Deb Lindsey published in The Washington Post.

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