I love Duck Confit. Let me say that again, I love Duck Confit. I would love to kiss the genius who invented the delicious concept of cooking something in its own fat. As we all know, Duck fat is liquid gold. I have many, many quarts of it in my kitchen. Sometimes, I just look at it with a big, goofy grin on my face. I feel wealthier because of it. Cooking things in Duck fat is akin to wrapping something in bacon. It’s the culinary equivalent of an athlete on steroids, it creates an unfair advantage. Ok, now onto the recipe, I use a pretty standard recipe with a few alterations. Here is a list of ingredients that will be required;
4 duck legs
2 bulbs garlic
Fresh ground pepper
If you already have duck fat, you are ahead of the game, if not don’t worry. You can render your own duck fat easily. I purchase my duck at Eastern Market, every Sunday, along with my duck legs; my butcher also saves me the trimmings of the ducks, nice fatty bits! In a deep sauté pan, I render the fat at a medium temperature, then pour into a container and let cool. If this does not give you enough fat, you may simply augment this with the cooking oil (something neutral and inexpensive such as rapeseed oil will do just fine). If you don’t have any duck fat, you will simply use the cooking oil. Make sure to reserve all of the oil when you’re finished (thereby slowly transforming your cooking oil into duck fat!).
Next, place your duck legs into a shallow, wide container. Liberally salt the duck legs, this dish require a lot of salt, so don’t be shy. Next peel your garlic, cut into medium sized chunks, spread evenly over the legs, now place whole thyme, rosemary and a few bay leaves on top of the legs. Finally grate a good amount of pepper over it all. Cover the dish and refrigerate overnight.
When your duck legs are cured, take then out of the fridge, wash and rinse them, then pat them dry. Take a roasting pan or casserole dish and place the duck legs inside. Pour in fat/oil mixture till it completely covers the duck. Cover the dish in clear wrap and then with foil. Insert the pan into the oven, which you have pre-heated to 200 degrees. Forget about the duck for 6-8 hours. Go to sleep, go shopping, something like that. If you don’t have that much time, you can cook at a higher temperature, although I would not recommend any more than 300 degrees (about 3 hours).
When the duck is finished, pull out the legs gently (they are now falling apart tender).
Strain out your fat slowly, put in storage containers and put away for next time. When you are ready to serve the duck, simply place into a medium hot cast iron skillet and crisp the skin and heat all the way through (if you had refrigerated before final preparation).
Suggested accompaniments; white beans, flageolets, root vegetables, sautéed greens, such as swiss chard, spinach, collard greens, mustard green or kale. I would also recommend using some of the duck fat to braise the greens in. That is it, not too hard to do, as you can see. Just remember to have your cardiologist on speed dial if you do this on a regular basis…..or just eat it in the emergency room waiting room perhaps.
Suggested Wine pairings; Burgundy, Oregon Pinot Noir, Cahors, Jumilla, Mourvedre, Rhone wines.
In store best bets for Duck Confit –
Cline Mourvedre $16.99
Marc Ecard Bourgogne Rouge $14.99
Lemelson Pinot Noir $34.99
Bodegas LAN Crianza $13.99
Domaine Belle Crozes-Hermitage $24.99
Bryan A Smith
Wine Specialist, Le Tastevin Fine Wines