Last week, the Accidental Locavore was out with some friends testing a restaurant for a future party. After a horrific incident at the original restaurant (follow me on yelp.com if you want to see where), we escaped across the street to Les Enfants Terrible. We went from being four really cranky diners to a happy and well-fed gang within moments of getting drinks and appetizers. I decided to have their duck shepherd’s pie, not something I would normally order (too many awful public school versions) but the thought of duck, mashed potatoes and cheese worked, and it was delicious.
Later in the week, my friend and trusted guinea pig Laura came over for dinner. Having a couple of duck legs confit and some rendered duck fat from D’Artagnan, hanging out in the fridge, I thought they would make a great version of the shepherd’s pie. To be healthy (yeah, right, OK, how about local) kale would be the bottom layer, followed by the shredded duck confit, topped with mashed potatoes and cheese. How bad could it be? It probably took about an hour or less from start to finish. Here’s how I did it to make 4 individual “pies”.
- 5 medium sized Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
- 2 tablespoons butter
- ½ cup or less milk, or chicken broth
- Optional: crème frâiche or heavy cream
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil or rendered duck fat (if you have it)
- 4 duck legs confit
- 1 bunch kale, stems removed, and coarsely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, finely minced, or 1 tablespoon pureed garlic confit
- ¼ pound Sonoma Dry Jack Cheese, grated (I was in the mood, use Gruyere, or what you like)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a medium sauce pan over high heat, cook the potatoes in salted water until tender. Remove from the heat, drain and return to the pan. Add the butter, milk or chicken broth, and mash the potatoes. Finish with the heavy cream or crème frâiche and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, add half the olive oil (or duck fat), and the duck legs, skin side down. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the skin has started to crisp up, and is dark golden brown. Flip them over, and cook for another 4 minutes. Remove from the pan.
Add the rest of the olive oil, garlic and kale to the pan. Toss the kale to coat with the olive oil. As the kale begins to wilt, cover with a lid and turn the heat down to medium, about 4 minutes.
While the kale is cooking, remove the skin from the duck legs and set aside. Remove the meat from the duck legs, shred into large pieces and set aside.
Assembling the shepherd’s pies:
Lightly grease a small oven-proof gratin pan, or 4 individual pans. Put an even layer of kale on the bottom of the pan, add the shredded duck confit and top with the mashed potatoes. Sprinkle the grated cheese on top. Garnish with the reserved duck skin. Bake until the cheese is melted and golden brown about 40 minutes. Serve and enjoy.
My rating: 4 1/2 stars. Why not 5? A little more duck would have made it a 5, but this way my husband got one when he got home. What’s not to like about duck confit and mashed potatoes with cheese? Oh, and the kale for health. The genius move? Turning the duck skin into cracklings and using it as a garnish (see photo).
Frank’s rating: 3 1/2 stars. He thought it needed more duck and more potatoes but is highly anticipating me making it again. He thinks adding peas to it would make it better. What do you think?