Long before the days of refrigeration, cooks had a different way of preserving their foods, particularly meats, to last them all Winter long. While it’s no longer necessary to preserve meats through smoking and curing, these methods lend themselves to particularly delicious dishes.
The same can be said for confit. In the past, confit meant placing duck legs into jars of duck fat to store the meat for long periods of time. Today, meat can also be confited by cooking it in its own fat, which makes the meat succulent and tender. While duck confit isn’t a dish that should necessarily be made every weekend, it is one that’s particularly suited to the cold weather. It’s hearty, filling, and, simply put, intoxicating. It’s a splurge — and it’s one French recipe we highly recommend.
Duck confit is particularly well known in Gascony and southwest France, but it’s popular throughout France as well. You can also make the dish your own by playing with the different spices and herbs in your salt mix, or by serving the duck confit over risotto or goose-fat roasted potatoes.
Prep time: 12 hours
Cook time: 150 minutes
Cook method: Roast
- 12 duck legs
- 180 grams (about 6 1/2 oz) coarse sea salt
- 8 bay leaves
- 2 tbsp freshly chopped thyme
- Freshly coarse ground black pepper
- 1.5 kg (3 1/3 lbs) goose fat
- Mix the salt, black pepper, thyme, and bay leaf together.
- In a dish rub the salt mixture all over the duck legs; cover the meat and refrigerate for 12 hours.
- Preheat oven to 140°C (284°F), or Gas mark 2.
- After 12 hours brush off as much of the salt mixture as possible and place duck legs into a deep roasting pan and cover with the goose fat. Place in oven and roast for 2 ½ hours, turning duck halfway through the process to ensure that it is basted occasionally.
- Serve over risotto, and bon appétit!
Alternatively, if you’d like to save the cooked duck confit for later, you can store it in a kilner (rubber-sealed) jar by placing duck in a sterilized jar and totally covering with strained cooking goose fat. This can be stored for up to three months, and it only improves with time.
By Liz Hall
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