Right, I’ve already put this up once, but this time we have pictures.
These are the duck legs from the birds I dressed the other day. From two ducks I got around 800g of thigh.
I cleaned them in fresh water, then lighted seasoned them with sea salt.
Go easy with the salt. It soaks into the duck’s fat and skin, and will flavour all of the thigh meat. So if you’re on a low-salt diet, be warned.
Next, cover the lot with happy wrap and put them in the fridge overnight.
Your duck will keep in the fridge for a couple of days happily. But don’t leave it there too long. The idea of this recipe is to keep everything sterile, and not to let any little bits of food get into your confit.
Next, set your over to bake at about 190 degrees, and take the duck out of the fridge. Season it with pepper, preferably that you’ve ground yourself. I use a mortar and pestle from Moore Wilsons. There’s nothing like the green smell of freshly ground pepper.
The recipe normally calls for thyme, but I couldn’t find any. Instead I’ve used fresh rosemary that I knicked from round the back of New World. Why pay $5 for a bunch when I grows all over the city for free? Just make sure you pick the stuff that’s above dog-leg height.
Also add two or three whole cloves of garlic, skin-on. Put them in the bottom of a casserole dish with some of of the rosemary, and layer the thighs.
Next, cover the thighs completely with melted duck fat. You can use fat you’ve recycled from a previous confit, fat you’ve rendered yourself, or fresh. Cover the lot in tinfoil, and place in the oven.
There isn’t really a trick to cooking a duck confit. Just fire the whole thing in the oven for about an hour. You needn’t worry about under-cooking the duck for instance, because you’ll be re-cooking it again in future.
However, you can tell when it’s cooked, because the skin ‘thins’ and pulls away from the thigh. This picture doesn’t show much, but you can see how dark the fat is. That means lots of the flavour of the thighs is in the fat, and vice-versa.
Now the good news? You don’t actually eat the fat. The next thing is to let the whole shebang cool, and refrigerate it.
If you’ve kept everything sterile the confit will preserve the duck for weeks. When it comes time to eat it, either dig the thighs out individually, or gently heat the fat until you can remove them. Then cook them how you like, in a cassoulet for example.
Ensure you save the confit fat. I use it to roast vegetables for example. It’s a good idea to use it before getting in new fat for future confits.
Now, what I didn’t get a photo of is the jelly. When the confit is cooling a layer of extremely rich jelly will form at the bottom of the dish. When the fat is set you can turn the whole lot out and remove the jelly by more or less peeling it off the layer of solid fat above it.
This jelly is extremely rich, and extremely delicious. Heat it gently and strain to remove the little bits of herbs. I pop the garlic out of their skins and mash them into the liquid. Another option is to reserve the garlic cloves, mix them with a tiny bit of jelly, and eat them on toast.
You then mix the jelly with a little of the confit meat, and move the lot to a ramekin or small bowl. Put a thin layer of fat over it to help preserve it, and let it set in the fridge.
This can then be used as a entree to any meal. It is light, fresh, and the essence of the confit.
Enjoy. Oh, and don’t eat this too often if you’re on a diet of any kind…