Asian Brined and Roasted Duck Legs with Sesame Sautéed Mushrooms
6 duck legs, whole
1 gallon water
10 bags tea, Lapsang Souchong
¼ cup salt
¼ cup brown sugar
½ cup soy sauce
6 cloves garlic, smashed
¼ cup ginger, fresh, roughly chopped
6 star anise seed pods, whole
1 orange, cut into large pieces
1 tbsp. Black pepper, freshly ground
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 lb. button mushrooms, brushed clean, sliced
1 large garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp. soy sauce
½ cup scallions, thinly sliced
Pinch chili flakes
1 tbsp. toasted sesame oil
¼ cup cilantro, fresh, chopped
2 tbsp. sesame seeds, toasted
STEP 1:One day ahead: Rinse off the duck legs in cold water then drain them in a colander. Next, pour all but 2 cups of the water into a large plastic container (1 ½-2 gallon capacity). Heat the 2 cups of water in a medium bowl until it is nearly boiling and add the tea to it. Set the tea aside for about 10 minutes to steep. Meanwhile, dissolve the salt and the brown sugar in the remaining water. Add the soy sauce, garlic, ginger, star anise orange pieces and black pepper to the brine solution. Now add a few pieces of ice to the tea to cool it down. Add the cooled tea to the brine. Next, place all the duck legs into the brine, cover with lid to the container and refrigerate overnight.
STEP 2:Day of serving: About 3 hours before finished food is needed remove duck legs from the brine to a colander. Let them drain for about 20 minutes. Brush off any pieces of tea or ginger, etc. Pat the legs dry with paper towels.
STEP 3:Preheat your oven to 350°Cover a sheet pan with foil and place a large, flat roasting rack over the foil. Now arrange the legs on the rack so the ends of the drumsticks are to the center of the rack. Place the duck legs into the oven and slowly roast them for about 90 minutes. The legs are done when they are no longer “stiff”; they should move a little when the leg is pushed gently. The skin will be very crisp and have a pretty, deep brown color. Most of the fat will render off onto the sheet pan.
STEP 4:Sauté the mushrooms about 20 minutes before the duck is ready. Heat the vegetable oil in a large sauté pan over high heat. Add the mushrooms and sauté until they are nicely browned on all sides and their liquid has cooked away. Add the garlic and stir and fry for a minute, then add the soy sauce. Next, add the scallions, chili flakes, sesame oil and the cilantro.
STEP5:Serve duck legs: Place a duck leg onto each of 6 dinner plates. Top each duck leg with a large spoonful of the mushrooms and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds. This recipe is also very good with steamed rice and stir-fried vegetables of your choice. Makes 6 servings.