deviled duck legs

How to be French: First get your hands on some duck legs

Have you ever wanted to be French? It's not that hard. Here's how to do it without breaking a sweat.

First get your hands on some duck legs, maybe six of them, or eight. Finding them is not as challenging as it used to be. 

Open a jar of Dijon mustard. Salt and pepper the duck legs and rub them with herbes de Provence. Now slather some of the mustard all over them. Sprinkle them liberally with panko, then drizzle a little melted butter over them. Slide the duck legs into a slow oven and forget about them for an hour and a half. Take them out.

Et voilà. Now you are French. I don't even need to tell you to grab a glass of red wine, as you are already French. 

If you're feeling contrary (hey – you must be French!) you can leave out the herbes de Provence. 

It was my friend Regina Schrambling who created this dish. Regina credits the great cookbook author Madeleine Kamman, citing a Kamman recipe for Dijon-rubbed duck legs sans herbes de Provence, and with standard bread crumbs instead of panko. But I love Regina's Reginafication of it; the herbes de Provence definitely add that certain je ne sais quoi

It's a great dish for entertaining, as it requires minimal effort yet delivers fabulous flavor and marvelous crunch. Plus you shove it in the oven and forget it, so it's absolutely stress-free. 

Because you're French, if it's a proper dinner you're scheming, you'll start with asparagus vinaigrette or leeks vinaigrette or an artichoke vinaigrette.

Or begin with céleri remoulade or a little frisée salad with walnuts and Roquefort, and serve some butter-braised asparagus avec. Just use this recipe and substitute frisée for the escarole. You could roast some potatoes in duck fat, if you had it – which you will after you make the duck legs, so next time. Haricots verts blanched then finished in butter are very French too, and here's a bonus: You could serve any old green beans and call them haricots verts

If you want to blow your friends' minds and be super-French, serve a salad after the duck legs, then some cheese, then some fruit. 

Or make a lemon-raspberry tart, and call it a day.

Bonne nuit.