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Red-Wine Braised Duck Legs with Dried Fruit, Capers, and Lemon

Scott Phillips

Servings: 4

The rich, sweet sauce created by braising the duck with dried fruit and a whole head of garlic gets brightened just before serving with a dose of capers, lemon juice, and parsley. Serve the tender duck with creamy polenta for a wonderful winter meal.


  • 4 whole duck legs, about 8 oz. each, trimmed of excess fat
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 cup dry red wine; more as needed
  • 1 cup chopped mixed dried fruit, such as sour cherries, apricots, pitted prunes, currants, or raisins
  • 1 head garlic, cloves separated, smashed gently with the side of a knife, and peeled
  • 2 tsp. dried thyme
  • Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • 4 cups unsalted chicken stock
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch, optional
  • 2 Tbs. capers, rinsed
  • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 to 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice

Nutritional Information

  • Calories (kcal) : 450
  • Fat Calories (kcal): 140
  • Fat (g): 16
  • Saturated Fat (g): 4
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 2.5
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g): 9
  • Cholesterol (mg): 110
  • Sodium (mg): 430
  • Carbohydrates (g): 34
  • Fiber (g): 3
  • Protein (g): 33


  • Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Season the duck legs all over with 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper.
  • Heat the oil in a deep 12-inch skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium heat. Add the duck legs, skin side down, and cook until the skin is golden brown and crisp, 9 to 12 minutes. Flip and cook until browned on the other side, about 5 minutes more. Remove the legs from the pan and pour off the fat.
  • Return the skillet to the stove, add the wine, and scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Boil until reduced by half, 1 to 2 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of the dried fruit, the garlic, thyme, and red pepper flakes. Return the legs to the skillet skin side up and carefully pour enough broth around the legs to come about 2/3 of the way up the sides. Bring to a simmer, transfer to the oven, and braise, adding more broth if necessary to maintain the level, until the meat is fork tender, about 1-1/2 hours.
  • Transfer the duck legs to a platter, loosely cover with foil, and keep warm.
  • Pour the liquid from the skillet through a sieve into a large fat separator. Let stand until the fat separates from the liquid. Pour the liquid only into a 2-quart saucepan. Boil until reduced to about 3/4 cup, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the remaining 1/2 cup dried fruit. Simmer the sauce until the fruit softens, about 5 minutes. If the sauce is not thick enough, mix the cornstarch with 2 Tbs. red wine and stir in this slurry, a little bit at a time, until the sauce reaches your desired thickness. Add the capers, half of the parsley, and 1 tsp. lemon juice. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and additional lemon juice. Serve the duck with the sauce, topped with the remaining parsley.


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Reviews (3 reviews)

  • I'm selena | 12/02/2017

    it seems sooooo yummy

  • User avater
    llinares1 | 05/04/2016

    exceptionally delicious!!! we will be making this many more times! we only used 1/2 garlic and that was perfect. i wonder if a whole would be too much(?) It is quite involved and takes a bit of pre-work. a special occasion or weekend meal. not ideal for weeknights.

  • BAdamsLD | 01/24/2016

    Absolutely delicious. Perfect Christmas dinner for two.

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