Dreamy's Delights

It's all about the food!

Duck Confit: Step 1

on August 6, 2012

Slow food has a soul deep pull for me. I love the process of seasoning and marinading/curing the meat over the course of several days and then the long slow cook. If you go back a couple of centuries, cooking was a whole day process. There was no such thing as “oh look, it’s 5pm, what do you want for dinner?” For that matter there really wasn’t much choice about what’s for dinner lol.

I love duck and duck confit is one of my all time favorite ways to eat duck meat. As I mentioned previously, confit is a preservation method. Meat (duck or pork) is skinned and fat removed. The fat is rendered out over several hours while the meat is salt curing for a day. Then the meat is slow cooked in the rendered fat and stored packed and covered in the fat.

Before I move forward with this post I want to say a couple of things about fat… American culture is terrified of fat and it’s a shame. Fat in meat is what imparts most of the rich flavor we all enjoy so much. Take away the fat and you lose a lot of the flavor. This is why boneless-skinless chicken breasts are so boring. Take the skin and fat off and there’s nothing left to give it any flavor. Too much fat can mess with cholesterol levels but it’s carbohydrates that create body fat. So give the fat a fair shake and at least TRY it lol.

Now, back to the story of making duck confit.

I used the following recipe as the basis for my confit.

DUCK CONFIT

Adapted from Sizzling Skillets and Other One Pot Wonders “Cassoulet with Confit and Garlic Sausage” by Emeril Lagasse, HarperStudio Publisher, New York, 2011, copyright MSLO Inc., All Rights Reserved

2 whole ducks, about 5 pounds each, cut into quarters, trimmed of excess skin and fat, skin and fat reserved

4 cloves garlic, smashed

2 teaspoons kosher salt

¼ teaspoon whole black peppercorns

4 bay leaves

4 sprigs thyme

1 cup rendered duck fat (recipe follows), goose fat or vegetable oil plus more if needed

Lay 4 pieces of the duck skin-side down in a shallow container.  Place on cloves of smashed garlic on top of each piece.  Sprinkle the flesh the salt and the peppercorns.  Lay a bay leaf and a sprig of thyme on top of each.  Top with a matching piece of duck, flesh to flesh (leg to leg; breast to breast).  Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Put the reserved duck fat (skin) in a pot and set the pot over very low heat and cook, scraping the bottom of the pot with a spoon to prevent sticking, as necessary, until all the fat is rendered and skin is crispy.  This can take up to 3 hours.  Alternatively you can render the fat in the oven.  Cover the pot and place in a 300° oven for 3 hours.* Strain the fat and set aside, covered in the refrigerator, until ready to use.  You should have about 1 cup.  If desired, sprinkle duck cracklings with salt and enjoy as a snack or reserve for garnish.

* Rendering duck fat can be done in stages.  If you have to leave the house (or go to bed), refrigerate the partially rendered duck fat (covered) and return it to the stove at a more convenient time to finish.

Here on the left is a picture of the duck skin/fat rendering out in a pan. It doesn’t look very appealing at this point but it’s worth it! If you prefer to avoid this step, you can buy pre-rendered duck fat. However, it’s insanely expensive.

The right hand picture is the skinned, quartered duck. It’s sprinkled with salt, fresh thyme leaves, peppercorns, and bay leaves.

 

 

In the process of quartering your duck you will have some boney bits left over. The neck, spine, wings, and feet. I’ve tossed them in a pot with onions, celery, garlic, bay leave, thyme, and peppercorns.

This is going to do a long, slow simmer to make stock. After the meat is all cooked down, I will stain this out and put the stock in freezer bags. Then I have a wonderful stock on hand for making soup or gravy.

Tomorrow I will slow cook the duck meat in the fat that I’m rendering out tonight.

Preheat the oven to 300° F.

Remove the duck from the refrigerator, rinse under cold water to remove salt and pat it dry.  Place it in a 2 quart shallow dish or pot.  Add the rendered duck fat and enough vegetable oil to cover the meat (the congealed fat will melt once you put it in the oven).  Cover the dish with a top or heavy duty aluminum foil, set it on a rimmed baking sheet, and cook for 3 hours, or until the meat is very tender.  Remove confit duck from the oven and set it aside to cool in its fat at least one hour, then cover and refrigerate for up to a month.

I haven’t decided exactly how I’m going to use the duck meat yet. That’s for me to decide tomorrow lol.

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