Canard a la moutarde competes with duck confit

Duck legs with mustard and bread crumbs

We Gourmandistanis are big fans of duck confit. We’ve written before about our less fat-intesive method of making it, and we currently have some boned-out bits stuffed in the freezer, waiting for a pizza, flatbread or perhaps a salad. But while we love the convenience of crisping a nice confit leg for dinner, our kitchen (OK, Michelle) is more and more often opting for a rival method—roasting duck legs with bread crumbs, butter and mustard.

It takes a couple of hours, but compared to the time it takes to make confit (at least Steve’s bit of grinding spices, rubbing them into legs, refrigerating overnight and baking) it doesn’t seem that bad. And the resulting tender meat covered in buttery, crispy, mustardy crumbs along with a rich, cidery sauce is something we’ve very much come to enjoy.

We’re not saying “so long” to delicious duck confit—but we’re definitely going to continue keeping Dijon mustard and breadcrumbs around.


(adapted from Madeleine Kamman’s In Madeleine’s Kitchen)

  • 2 duck legs, about 1/2 lb. each, or slightly larger
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 heaping tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 TB butter, melted
  • 3 TB dry bread crumbs (regular bread crumbs or panko)
  • 1 TB chopped parsley and/or other fresh herbs
  • 1/4 c. dry hard cider
  • 1/4 c. duck, veal or chicken stock
  • Additional chopped parsley for garnish

Preheat oven to 325° F.

Salt and pepper the meat sides of the duck legs. Place legs in a small gratin pan, fat side up. Slather a heaping teaspoon of mustard on the top (fat) side of each duck leg.

In a small bowl, mix together the melted butter, bread crumbs and chopped herbs. Season liberally with salt and pepper.

Sprinkle duck legs with the bread crumb mixture. Press down a bit with your fingers to set.

Tent pan loosely with aluminum foil.  Bake for about 1-3/4 hours. Then, remove foil and bake for 15 minutes more.

Remove duck legs from pan and set aside. Pour off most of the fat. On stove, deglaze the pan with the cider and stock.

To serve, spoon gravy over duck legs and sprinkle with additional chopped parsley.

NOTE: The dish is almost as good without the sauce.


  1. They look delicious.
    Aside from the waistline aspect of eating lots of duck fat, the fat itself is good for you and contains oleic acid, one of the main constituents in olive oil. The same goes for goose and pigs that have been fed acorns 😉

  2. Oh, yes, a LARGE portion, and if you have any of the old-school fatty stuff hanging around, I’ll take a side of that too. Duck is definitely like Kryptonite to my dietary armor. Ken

    • Same here. It’s probably a good thing that our Whole Foods gets the legs only sporadically. We bought some local ones from a farmer a couple of weeks ago and were really excited, but they were just too small and stringy.

      • They’re available sporadically here as well. I should also say that they’re available in a major Asian market, but I have yet to bite. China does such a poor job with food regulation. Ken

    • It is a great recipe, as so many of Madeleine Kamman’s are. I gather she was a bit of a pill. A Frenchwoman who didn’t quite understand why Americans didn’t totally understand her. But she left a great legacy.

  3. So decadent. I love it. I think I will make this. I don’t eat duck often, but I really am so tempted. I like the idea of hard cider as part of the marinade, it gives it that hint of fruity that goes so well with duck. Gorgeous photo.

  4. That looks so tasty and rich. Isn’t great a mustard the best in a bread crumb topping? The deglazing of the pan with hard cider sounds bright and fruity. Something about the finishing herb, parsley, looks so enticing. Maybe the bright green color? Yes, it is always nice to have a bit of leftover duck around, though I assume we would eat these legs up in a heartbeat.

  5. I know when I visit Gourmandistan, you guys are going to treat me to a fantastic dish. Today’s recipe is certainly no exception. Everything about this sounds delicious, Michelle.

    • Why thanks, Caroline! I love duck, too. It’s so interesting corresponding with folks from all over the world. I often have to think: do they have this there? Recently, I was embarrassed when I almost said to someone in the Middle East, do you have quail there? but thought to Google it first and realized, duh, they originated there.

  6. I love this idea! I adore duck confit (really, who doesn’t?) but this looks like some serious competition. I also like the less labor intensive part — anything that gets melty delicious duck in my mouth sooner is a good thing!

    • Who doesn’t indeed? And so easy. I haven’t done so, but it would be a perfect dinner party dish. Because it can sit in a cooling oven forever with little change.

  7. I’ve just gone through an epic session of peeling and cutting grapefruit so that not a trace of the white rind tissue goes in, to make jam. So taking “too long” to make something delicious I think is worth it.
    I think I’ll be trying this duck recipe as it looks fabulous – and my boyfriend is from France, always impressed when I make something Frenchie 😉

    • Oh, Bianca, this is sooooo easy. The perfect intro! The biggest problem we have is finding duck legs. Our Whole Foods is hit or miss. Though every time we see them, we buy them all up and freeze them.

  8. That’s an audacious hed, but after looking at those beautiful legs, I don’t doubt it’s true. It’s just about now that their eggs come in season, so we have a lot of delicious duck to look forward to, I think.

  9. Cider is one of my ultimate favourite ingredients for braising & stews. I love the way it adds a lift to flavours, without getting too heavy. Your combination of mustard crumbs sounds delicious too. It’s getting colder here and I just might need to turn on the oven for roasts soon!

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