3 tbsp salt flakes
1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp fennel seeds, ground
2 tbsp chopped thyme
2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
6 duck legs
1 litre duck fat
1 kg fresh borlotti beans, podded to yield 500g
3 tbsp olive oil
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 onion, finely diced
1 medium fennel bulb, cut into 2cm dice
100g thick-cut bacon, diced
1 medium carrot, cut into 2cm dice
2 celery stalks, cut into 2cm dice
1 medium zucchini, cut into 2cm dice
Fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp fennel powder
1 bay leaf
2 thyme sprigs
250ml red wine
750ml chicken stock
500ml tomato passata
1 cup basil leaves
Extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup chopped flat leaf parsley
Combine the salt, pepper, fennel seeds and herbs in a small mixing bowl. Place the duck legs on a plastic tray and rub them all over with the salt mixture. When they are thoroughly salted, cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 – 3 hours.
The next day, rinse away the salt rub and pat the legs totally dry with paper towel. Heat the duck fat in a large heavy-based saucepan until it just starts to bubble. Slip the dry duck legs into the fat one at a time, so that they are completely covered, cover with a lid. Turn the heat as low as possible and cook the duck for about 1.5-2 hours. The meat should be very tender but not yet falling away from the bones. Remove the pan from the heat and leave the duck to cool in the fat.
To make borlotti braise, bring a saucepan of salted water to a boil and cook the beans for 15 -20 minutes, until al dente. Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, gently heat a separate heavy-based saucepan. Add the onion, garlic, fennel and bacon, then pour in the oil and fry gently for 3-4 minutes, until the onion is soft but not coloured. Add a pinch of salt and a good crack of black pepper, the carrot, celery and zucchini and fry for a further 5 minutes. Stir in the fennel powder, bay leaf, thyme and the borlotti beans, then pour in the wine, chicken stock and passata. Cover with a lid and lower the heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes.
Sear the confit duck legs, skin-side down in a very hot non-stick frying pan. Turn them over and sear the other side until they are crispy all over.
Fold the basil leaves into the borlotti braise and divide between plates, arrange a duck leg on top, drizzle with a little extra-virgin olive oil and scatter with parsley.