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by on March 16th, 2012

Duck Confit

So you say, “what is duck confit” and what are you going to do with it.

I tried to anticipate what we might be eating and tried a few French recipes. I’m sure I will be taking a lot of food pictures and I will post some of our favorite places and meals when we return.

In just a few more hours and we will be boarding our plane for France. A week in Paris and a week in Provence I’m sure the trip is going to be wonderful with breathtaking scenery, new experiences and lots of wonderful food. I am sure that we will be seeing duck confit on all the menus; so I decided to make it before our trip then I can compare my version to theirs.

I tried to anticipate what we might be eating while there and tried a few French recipes before going. I’m sure I will be taking a lot of food pictures while there an

Duck confit is a French dish made with the leg/thigh of the duck and it is prepared in a century-old process that consists of salt curing the duck legs and then poaching slowly submerged in its own fat for hours.

The duck legs are rubbed with garlic, herbs (thyme) and salt (I love using thyme because my herb garden is full of it), then refrigerated 36-48 hours. After rinsing off the salt and herbs the meat is slowly poached for 6-8 hours and the meat and fat are removed from the bone. After the meat has cooled it can be put into a container and submerged in the fat.  A sealed jar of duck confit can be refrigerated for up to six months or longer. You need to top the meat in the jar with at least 1″ of fat.

One weekend when we were in Austin visiting our kids, my son was chopping up some duck legs that he had confitted (if that is a word). Anyway, my grandson, Milo, who was only two at the time stood on his chair, watching his dad cook and ate a whole pile of chopped duck legs.

My duck legs were not easily found; I looked all over Houston for duck legs and finally found them at Central market (by phone) but at $6.99 lb. So, what I love most about the internet is that after searching just a little while, no driving, traffic, or gas involved, I found the duck legs at Maple Leaf Farms at $2.99 for 12 oz. leg/thigh. So I ordered six. Why not order more than I needed since I had to pay shipping anyway and on top of that I found a promo code for $5.00 off. So I ordered 6 legs for $25 and that included shipping. I search for promo codes on EVERYTHING I order off the internet. Usually one can be found for a percentage off, free shipping or at least $5.00 off. In this case I got $5.00 off so, what a deal; now I don’t have to drive into Houston. So if you need a promo code, just Google promo code for…. (whatever) and you may have to look through a couple of sites before you find one that works.

I did find whole duck at this Asian market in Houston ,BUT, the frozen and fresh ducks had their heads and feet still on and I just couldn’t bring myself to buying them; they kind of gave me the heebe geebies to look at them. I know I have eaten tripe, lamb fries, tongue and different organ meats that most people wouldn’t think of eating but there was just something about seeing the head and legs/feet still on the duck all curled up in the package made me shiver just to think of it.

I bought my duck fat from Williams Sonoma back in December when it was on sale. Normally it is about $10 for a 10 ounce jar and I needed two jars to make sure the duck was totally covered in fat.

The fat can be saved and frozen and used for sautéing vegetables or added to anything requiring some fat. I can’t wait to have some French fries in France fried in Duck fat. I’ve heard they are out of this world.

And, what am I doing with the confit. Well, I made a cassoulet before we headed off to France. A cassoulet is a heavy stew made with beans, duck confit, ham, pork belly, and sausage. I know I will have it while there so I wanted to try one before going.

Now if you decide to make the confit and then use it in a cassoulet that is great, but some other ways you can use the confit is in a risotto, use it in a paté, a little confit on a toasted baguette spread with a little Dijon would be a quick canapé  for unexpected guests. Use the confit in a ravioli or crepe or even make a hash with it. I’ve also read that you don’t have to have a quart of duck fat to poach it in and that olive oil is just as good. Also try beating it up with some goat cheese for a spread on baguette — fantastic.

So, what am I doing with my remaining packages of duck legs — well, I have a pear salad topped with crispy duck confit I will be making soon (after we return from our trip).  Watch for the post, it’s going to be delicious.

I used three packages of my duck legs and put the remaining ones in my freezer for another day.

Rinse off the duck, pat dry and cover generously with sea salt or kosher salt. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate 24-48 hours. Some recipes call to put the herbs and garlic in now. I forgot that stage so I added it when I added the duck fat.

Rinse off the salt and pat dry. Add the garlic, bay leaves and thyme sprigs.

Heat the two jars of duck fat until melted.

Put the duck in a dish that will be deep enough and small enough to hold the duck so I will be covered with duck fat.

The duck cooked in it’s own fat (2 jars) for a few hours.

I started trying to brown this in my All Clad stainless steel skillet but had a problem with the skin sticking so I switched to a non stick skillet. Next time I may try my old stand by — cast iron skillet.

Duck Confit

3 duck leg quarters
sea salt, or kosher
4-5 cloves garlic
4-6 bay leaves
6 sprigs fresh thyme
2 jars duck fat

To begin with the next time I do this I would put the bay leaves and thyme with the salted legs for the curing stage.

Wash and dry the duck leg quarters, put in a dish and cover both sides generously with sea salt (or Kosher). Add in the thyme and bay leaves. Cover and refrigerate 24-48 hours.

Rinse off the salt, save the herbs (or use fresh ones). Pat the legs dry and put in a casserole dish that will be a tight fit. This way, you won’t need as much duck fat. Add in the garlic cloves and the thyme and bay leaves. heat the duck fat just enough that it is liquid. Pour this over the duck to totally cover. Try and press the duck legs down so they will be submerged with the fat. Don’t worry if you are a little short on the fat.

Bake in 225° for 2-3 hours very slowly at the low temperature. You want to see a little bubbling going on but not much more than that. Remove from oven, let cool in it’s own fat. When cool, stored the legs in a jar and totally cover with the duck fat. These will last for months refrigerated.

Use in your favorite recipes.

Look how delicious and crispy this is.

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