Tasty duck legs, slowly braised with red wine and mushrooms, constitute the delicious filling for this duck pie recipe (aka duck pot pie).
Like a good baguette, taco, or shawarma, a pie is a collection of delectable ingredients wrapped in an enclosure worthy of those ingredients. And so it is with these duck pies.
Braising the duck legs
The muscles that do the most work are always the tastiest. And the toughest, so they need to be cooked long and slow to break down the hardier structures. The lamb shanks in this shepherd’s pie are a good example. Duck legs, like chicken legs, need to be cooked long and slow. This results in super tasty yet super tender duck meat.
For this duck pie, we braise the duck legs in red wine with mushrooms, carrots, leeks, and smoky bacon lardons. This process results in tender, tasty meat and a deeply flavoured liquor that we use to bind our pie ingredients.
While the duck legs are the perfect tenderness after 2 1/2 hours of braising, the various vegetables that we add to the broth for extra flavour are starting to break down. These are not suitable to add to our pie, so we sauté some extra mushrooms, carrot, and red pepper in duck fat and use them instead.
While we praise the taste and texture of well-cooked duck legs in this recipe, this does not diminish how incredible a perfectly cooked duck breast can be. This duck pho, these duck tacos, and these duck rice paper wraps are examples of how unique and versatile duck breast can be.
Making the pies
I made these duck pot pies sized for individual servings. That’s just a personal preference, and you could alternatively make one big pie. You may already have pie pans in your kitchen, but you will need something like these for individual servings.
It’s so satisfying to bite into a pie made with flakey pastry. However, it is essential to cook the base thoroughly. For this reason, pre-bake the pie bases before adding the filling and pastry tops. Make sure you make the pieces of pastry for the pies bases bigger than necessary because they will shrink during that pre-bake.
A green salad is a perfect accompaniment for duck pot pie. Like the sauce used in this potato risotto recipe, a roasted tomato sauce would also work well.
Braised duck pie
- 3 large duck legs
- 75 g bacon lardons
- 2 carrots
- 2 leeks
- 1 red pepper
- 1 head garlic
- 200 g button mushrooms or smallish shiitake mushrooms
- 200 g shiitake mushrooms
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 star anise
- 350 ml red wine
- 650 ml brown chicken stock
- 70 g tomato paste
- Pack of frozen flaky pastry thawed and brought to room temperature before using
- 30 g butter or duck fat
- 2 Tbsp flour
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1/2 tsp marmite or 1 Tbsp red miso
- 5 serving sized pie pans
- Preheat the oven to 165 degC.
- Score the duck leg skin, or use a skin piercer like this >
- Season the duck legs with salt and pepper and allow to sit uncovered in the refrigerator for a couple of hours, or overnight.
- Lay the duck legs skin side down in a cold skillet. Slowly increase the heat to medium. Fat should render from the duck.
- When the skins are golden brown, turn the legs over and sear the other side for a minute or two.
- Remove the duck legs and set aside. Pour off the duck fat into a small bowl.
- Add the bacon lardons to the skillet and sauté until golden brown (about 5 minutes). Remove the bacon from the pan, letting any bacon fat drain into the pan before removing. Set the bacon aside.
- Clean and chop the shiitake mushrooms (including stalks), the leeks, and one carrot.
- Clean, halve, and remove stalk and pith from the red pepper. Coarsely chop one half.
- Rinse the head of garlic and halve horizontally.
- Sauté the shiitake mushrooms in the skillet until they have expelled any moisture and are starting to brown. Add the chopped leeks, coarsely chopped red pepper, and carrot. Sauté until the leeks soften.
- Add the sautéed vegetables, bacon, head of garlic, and bay leaves to a oven proof baking dish like a dutch oven.
- Lay the duck legs on top of the vegetables, skin side up.
- Use the red wine to deglaze the skillet, then pour that and the chicken stock over the duck.
- Put the lid on the baking dish or dutch oven and put in the oven.
- Braise the duck for 2 1/2 hours.
- Quarter the button mushrooms, dice the second carrot into pieces about half the size as the quartered mushrooms. Likewise, dice the other half of the red pepper into pieces the same size.
- Add the reserved duck fat to the skillet and bring to a medium heat.
- Sauté the button mushroom quarters in the skillet until they have expelled any moisture and are starting to brown. Add the chopped carrot and red pepper. Sauté until the carrot and red pepper soften just a little (about 5 minutes). Set aside.
- When the duck has finished braising, remove from the oven.
- Carefully remove the duck legs and set aside to cool a little.
- Strain the vegetables and bacon out of the braising liquid and discard the solids. You should have about 250 ml (1 cup) of braising liquid remaining. If you have more, add to a saucepan and reduce until you have 250ml.
- When the duck is cool enough to handle, remove and discard the skins, then remove the duck meat from the leg bones. It should be very tender by now, and come away from the bones very easily.
- Chop the duck meat into pieces similar in size to the sautéed button mushrooms and carrot, then add to the button mushrooms and carrot.
- Sauté the finely chopped small onion and garlic in the 30 g of butter in a non-stick pan until softened.
- Add the 2 Tbsp of flour and stir into the butter and onion to make a roux.
- Add the 1/2 tsp of marmite or Tbsp of red miso and stir to combine.
- Slowly add the reserved one cup of braising liquid, stirring all the time. The result should be a broth a little thicker than heavy cream.
- Combine the thickened broth with the chopped duck leg, mushrooms, red pepper, and carrot, and stir to ensure all the ingredients are evenly distributed.
- IMPORTANT: Check for correct seasoning at this point. Too late after you enclose the mixture in the pastry. Add some more salt/marmite/miso/soy sauce, depending on your preference.
- Preheat the oven to 180 degC.
- Roll out the pasty to a couple of millimeters thick (if necessary).
- Grease the pie pans with a little butter or oil, then line with the pastry.
- Add the duck and mushroom filling.
- Top with some more pastry.
- Poke a couple of holes into the pastry top, so that steam can escape during cooking.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown.
- Serve with a green salad.