Steamed and Crisped Duck Legs with Umbrian Lentils


In this recipe, I steam the duck legs so that the flesh will melt in your mouth and not in the pot. If you use large foie gras-style legs (legs of a Moulard or Muscovy duck bred to produce foie gras), you'll need to steam them longer.


  • 4 large duck legs, preferably Moulard or Muscovy
  • Garlic, celery tops, bay leaves, parsley sprigs, rosemary, and thyme
  • cup diced pancetta (2 ounces)
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • cup chopped celery
  • cup chopped onion
  • cup chopped carrot
  • ½ pound small brown lentils such as Colfiorito, Casteluccio, or Pardina, rinsed and drained
  • 3 cups light poultry stock
  • 3 tablespoons saba
  • 2 tablespoons red wine
  • A few drops of balsamic vinegar or lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley


  1. Rinse the duck legs and let drain. Place the legs in a steamer basket or colander over a bed of garlic, celery, bay leaves, parsley, rosemary, and thyme. Set the steamer over a deep pot filled with boiling water, cover, and steam for 1½ to 2 hours. If necessary, add more hot water to the pot.
  2. In a 3-quart or medium-size flameproof casserole, heat the pancetta in the oil; add the celery, onion, and carrot and cook until soft. Stir in the lentils and stock, cover, and cook for 45 minutes.
  3. When the duck legs are tender, transfer to a work surface to rest for about 30 minutes. Cut out and discard all loose bones and fat. Place the duck on a rack on a baking sheet in a cold oven. Set the oven temperature to 400°F.
  4. Mix the saba and red wine and adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper, and balsamic vinegar or lemon juice to taste. When the skin is hot and taut, brush with the prepared saba mixture and roast for 20 to 30 minutes longer, or until the skin is shiny, crisp, and brown. Nestle the legs in the lentils, add any leftover glaze to the lentils, and garnish with the chopped parsley.