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Braised Duck Legs with Creamy Morbier Grits

When I was in Pigeon Forge, home of Dollywood, I stopped by The Old Mill.  They have a wonderful array of stone ground flours and grits, homemade candies, honey, and jams.  In addition, they sell pottery and have a little restaurant.  Today I am cooking the stone ground yellow grits I bought from their store.

The typical cheese grits uses cheddar but I have Morbier in the fridge.  It will give a nice creaminess.    For that matter, you could make polenta.  It is almost the same thing, just a finer grind on the corn.

Place a braised duck leg on a mound of the creamy grits on each plate.  

Braised Duck Legs with Creamy Morbier Grits                       serves 4

Braised Duck Legs
4 large duck legs* (about 2 3/4 pounds total, cut from two 5 1/2- to 6-pound ducks)
a 750-ml. bottle light fruity red wine such as Pinot Noir (about 3 1/4 cups)
a bouquet garni of 10 lightly crushed juniper berries**, 3 whole cloves, a 4- by 1 inch strip orange zest, and 1 bay leaf tied together in a cheesecloth bag
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
mirepoix made of 1 large carrot, 1 large celery rib, and1 large onion, all cut in 1/4-inch dice
2 large fresh parsley sprigs plus 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley leaves

a beurre manié made by rubbing together 2 tablespoons softened unsalted butter and 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Trim excess fat from duck legs. In a large bowl marinate duck legs in wine with bouquet garni, covered and chilled, 2 hours.

Transfer legs to a plate, reserving wine and bouquet garni. In a heavy kettle large enough to hold legs in one layer heat oil over moderately high heat until hot. Pat legs dry with paper towels and season with salt. Cook legs, skin sides down, 20 minutes, or until skin is crisp and mahogany-colored, removing fat from kettle as it rendered with a metal bulb baster (or very carefully pouring it off). Turn legs and cook until browned on other side, about 2 minutes, transferring as browned to a plate.

Pour off all but about 2 tablespoons fat from kettle and sauté vegetables with salt to taste, stirring occasionally, until tender and lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Add duck legs, skin sides up, with parsley sprigs and reserved wine and bouquet garni and simmer, covered, 1 1/2 hours, or until tender. Braised duck legs may be prepared up to this point 2 days ahead and chilled, covered. Reheat mixture over low heat, adding 1/3 cup water, before proceeding with duck preparation.

Transfer duck legs to a warm plate and keep warm, covered with foil. Discard parsley sprigs and bouquet garni and strain liquid into a 1-quart measuring cup, reserving vegetables. Let liquid stand until fat rises to top and skim and discard fat. Return liquid to kettle and simmer until reduced to about 2 cups. Add beurre manié, a little at a time, whisking, and boil 2 minutes.

Creamy Morbier Grits
2 cups water
2/3 cup yellow stone-ground grits (not instant grits)
1 egg
1/3 cup light cream
2T unsalted butter (optional), cut into pieces
1/2 c Morbier cheese, cut into small cubes
1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
pepper to taste
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F.

Bring water and salt to a boil in a heavy pot.

Add grits in a slow stream, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and gently simmer, stirring frequently to avoid sticking, until very thick, about 30 minutes. (Use a long-handled spoon to avoid bubbling and popping hot grits.)

Add butter, salt and pepper to taste, and cheese, stirring until butter and cheese are melted. Lightly beat egg and milk in a small bowl, then stir into grits until combined.

Pour into an ungreased loaf pan and bake until set and lightly browned, about 1 hour. Serve immediately.

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