When the sweet flavors of vanilla interact with curry powder, both ingredients are transformed. The result is a satisfying interplay of sweetness and spiciness.
If you prefer, chicken legs can be substituted for the duck. The dish also can be made with individual cuts of pork; chops are a good choice.
- 1/2 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise, seeds scraped out and reserved, bean cut into 1/4- to 1/2-inch pieces
- 2 teaspoons mild curry powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 duck legs, trimmed of excess fat (8 to 10 ounces each)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 medium onion, chopped (4 cups)
- 2 medium tomatoes, chopped (1 cup)
- 4 ounces butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 2 to 3 sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped
- 1 whole clove
Combine the vanilla seeds, curry powder and salt in a small bowl. Rub the spice mixture on the duck legs.
Melt the butter in a large, deep skillet or a wide pot over medium heat. Add the duck legs skin side down with the vanilla bean pieces and cook for 15 minutes, turning the legs occasionally. Add the onion; cook for 5 minutes, until it has softened. Add the tomato, squash, sun-dried tomatoes and the clove; cook uncovered for 40 to 50 minutes, until the duck is tender and the sauce is no longer watery. Discard the clove before serving.
Adapted from "Where Flavor Was Born," by Andreas Viestad (Chronicle, 2007).
Tested by Dean Felten.
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