Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Duck Leg Adobo – A Real Family Meal

If you’ve worked in restaurants before, you know that every night before service the staff sits down to what’s called the “family meal.” One of the younger cooks is usually charged with scraping together something filling and, more importantly, not expensive. It was during one of these meals that I first had adobo.

When I worked at the Carnelian Room in the late 80’s, much of the kitchen crew was Filipino, so chicken and pork adobo was a very common dinner. One of the dishwashers made a particularly great version, and I fell in love with the bold, simple flavors. I also remember being pretty annoyed that the dishwashers there were better cooks than I was at the time, but that’s another story.

Anyway, I happened to have some duck legs around last week, and all it took was a well-timed email wishing for adobo to inspire this video. I understand that most of you will not use duck for this, but if you do, be sure to save the fat.

Duck fat is prized by chefs, and more heart-healthy than people realize. It can be used for just about anything you’d normally fry in butter or vegetable oil. I roasted some Brussels spouts with mine, but it also will make just about the best homefries you’ve ever tasted.

Like I said in the video, no duck, no problem. If you can simmer it in a sauce, it will work in this recipe. Because of the high soy sauce content, be careful about over reducing, but other than that, not much can go wrong. This is cheap, easy, and very flavorful, which is why it makes for such a great “family meal.” Enjoy!

Ingredients for 6 duck legs:
6 duck legs (or about same amount of chicken or pork)
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp reserved duck fat
1 large onion, sliced
8 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup seasoned rice vinegar (if not seasoned, use a little sugar to taste)
1/2 cup soy sauce, or to taste (this is a fairly salty dish, so if you're not into that kind of thing, add less and adjust later)
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
2 tsp sambal chili sauce, or other hot pepper sauce to taste