4 duck legs
1/2 c sugar
1 c salt
1 Tbsp black peppercorns (ground)
1 tsp star anise (ground)
2 cloves of garlic, sliced thin
1/4 c olive oil
1 lb dried gemelli pasta
1 c mâche leaves (washed)
1 c diced butternut squash
1/2 c sliced leeks
2 Tbsp butter
1 gallon duck fat (or canola oil will work in a pinch)
Salt and pepper to your liking
You will start the night before you are going to serve this dish. The duck legs need to sit in the cure over night before you confit them. Start by mixing the salt, sugar, and spices together, then generously coating the duck legs. Cover and let sit in the fridge overnight.
When you are ready to begin cooking, set your oven to 350 degrees. Wash the excess cure from the duck legs and pat them dry. Find a large, oven proof vessel to cook the duck legs in. Submerge them in the fat — either duck fat if you can find it, or canola oil will work fine.
Place in the oven at 350 for 30 minutes, just to get the oil up to temperature. Reduce the heat to 275 and let the duck legs cook for three and a half more hours.
While the duck legs are cooking, you can dice the leeks and squash. Go ahead and make your tomato sauce by first cutting the tops off of the tomatoes. Put them in the oven with the duck legs for 15 minutes.
When you remove the tomatoes from the oven, allow them to cool for 10 minutes, then simply peel the skin off. Crush them with your hand. Then, on the stove top in a large sauce pot, heat the olive oil and garlic, but do not brown the garlic. Put the tomato into the pot and cook over medium heat for 20 minutes.
When the duck legs are ready, remove them from the oven and use a slotted spoon to remove them from the hot oil. Place them on a towel and let them cool until they can be handled. When they are cool, pick the duck meat.
You are now ready to cook the pasta. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook the pasta, stirring often, for about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat a large sauté pan. Add a bit of olive oil and sauté the leeks and squash. When the squash gets a bit of color, add the sauce, then the duck. When the pasta is cooked, add the pasta and the butter. Garnish with the mâche and grated cheese.