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Bring 3 cups of water in a medium saucepan to a boil. Add the onions and boil for 5 minutes. Drain in a colander and refresh under cold running water. Cut away the stem ends of the onions and slip off the skins. Set aside.
Heat a large, straight-sided saute pan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring, until brown and crispy, about 5 minutes. Remove the bacon from the pan with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
Season 1/2 cup of the flour with the Essence, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper. Lightly dredge the duck in the seasoned flour, shaking to remove any excess. Increase the heat to medium-high. Add the duck to the fat in the pan and cook until lightly browned, about 4 minutes per side. Remove the duck legs and set aside to drain on a paper lined plate. Drain off all but 3 to 4 tablespoons of fat from the pan. Add the pearl onions, mushrooms and garlic and cook until onions begin to brown and the mushrooms release their liquid. Remove the pot from the heat and carefully add the cognac. Using a match, ignite the cognac and return the pan to the heat cooking for 1 minute, until the flames die out and the alcohol cooks off. Add the remaining 1/3 cup of flour to the pan and stir to bind with the fat in the pan and make a roux. Continue to cook the roux, while stirring until brown in color, about 5 minutes. Return the duck to the pan, add the wine, and stir to combine. Add the stock and bouqet garni, cover, and place in the oven and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 2 hours.
Remove the duck legs from the sauce with a slotted spoon and cover to keep warm. Continue cooking the sauce at a simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes, stirring often to keep the sauce from sticking. Adjust the seasonings with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper and return the duck legs and crispy bacon to the pan. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley and fresh thyme sprigs. Serve with crusty bread on the side.
Yield: 2/3 cup
Recipe from "New New Orleans Cooking", by Emeril Lagasse and Jessie Tirsch, published by William and Morrow, 1993.