Tuscan Braised Duck With Red Wine Sauce & Cheese Polenta inspired by My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997)
My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997), Food critic, Julia Roberts tucks into pigeon and polenta, fine dining style. (3 mins 58 seconds)
Inspired by one of the dishes in My Best Friend’s Wedding, this Tuscan treat would impress even the harshest critic. Luxurious, comforting and effortlessly delicious, this tender duck feast is served with a rich, red wine-infused ragù, cheesy polenta and toasted pine nuts. Delish.
For 2 people [double for 4]
- 1 can of chopped tomatoes
- 2 British duck legs
- 75g polenta
- 1 carrot
- 1 Just Add Wine sachet, (de-alcoholised red)
- 1 beef stock cube
- 1 bag of pine nuts
- 40g Italian hard cheese
- 3 garlic cloves
- 150g cavolo nero
- 5g rosemary
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 brown onion
You’ll also need
- Butter, pepper, salt, sugar
Cooking instructions 110 mins
For 2 people [double for 4]
Preheat the oven and prepare your duck legs. Set the oven to 160°C / 140°C (fan) / 325°F/ Gas 3 and boil a kettle. Season the duck all over with a pinch of salt, then add to a cold, dry, wide-based oven-proof casserole dish with a matching lid. (Or use a frying pan and an oven-proof dish lined with tin foil). Cook for 6-7 minutes on medium-high or until browned all over and the fat has rendered. Once browned, transfer the duck legs to a plate and reserve the dish for later.
Tip: brown the skin and render the fat to add flavour.
Prepare the vegetables and stock. Peel and finely dice the brown onion[s] and carrot[s] (skins on). Peel and slice (don’t chop!) the garlic. Strip the rosemary leaves from the stems and chop finely. Discard the stems. Dissolve the beef stock cube[s] and Just Add Wine sachet[s] in 250ml [400ml] boiled water.
Cook the vegetables for the base. Discard some of the oil from the oven-proof dish so you’re left with just 1 tbsp [2 tbsp]. Return the dish to a medium heat. Once hot, add the diced onion, carrot, garlic and rosemary with a pinch of salt and cook for 5-6 minutes or until starting to soften. Once softened, add the tomato paste, chopped tomatoes, beef stock and a pinch of sugar and cook for 3-4 minutes.
Add the duck legs and pop in the oven. Sit the browned duck legs, skin side up, over the sauce and cover with the lid. Put the dish in the oven for an initial 1 hour 20 minutes or until the duck is tender and cooked through, and the sauce is thick and rich.
After 1 hour, chop the cavolo nero roughly, including the stalks. Grate the Italian hard cheese. Add the pine nuts to a baking tray and put the tray in the oven for 5-6 minutes or until golden. Once golden, remove from the oven and set aside until serving.
Re-boil a kettle.
Once the duck is tender, increase the temperature to 220°C/ 200°C (fan)/ 425°F/ Gas 7, remove the lid from the dish and cook for 10 minutes further or until the skin is crispy.
Add 400ml [800ml] boiled water to a pot and bring to the boil over a high heat. Be sure to add 1/2 tsp [1 tsp] salt! Once boiling, gradually whisk the polenta into the water in a steady stream, whisking continuously to stop lumps from forming. Reduce the heat to medium and continue to whisk the polenta for 2-3 minutes or until thickened to a mashed potato-like consistency.
Once thickened, add the grated cheese with a large knob of butter and whisk to combine. Taste the polenta and add another pinch of salt and pepper if needed. This is your cheese polenta.
Re-boil a kettle. Add the chopped cavolo nero to a colander over the sink and pour over all of the boiled water until bright green and wilted.
Serve the rich sauce over the cheese polenta with the duck leg on top and cavolo nero to the side. Garnish with the toasted pine nuts and enjoy!