Confit de Canard recipe

Confit is a generic term for various kinds of food that have been cooked in oil, fat or sugar water. Sealed and stored in a cool, dark place, Confit can last for several months. In this recipe I will be slowly cooking and preserving Duck legs in the classical French way, hence the name – Confit de Canard (it's pronounced 'Confee')

Confit, as I have said is a technique, it was used in France for centuries before fridges were invented and still is used as a way of preparing and storing food both in France and other parts of the world, but now it's for the taste not to store. The meat is preserved in its own fat, it has become a favored method of preparing meat, the process seems to really suit Duck flesh, but because it infuses the meat with fat and flavor, other meats such as Pork, Goose and Sausages are also preserved in the same way.

It works as a storage process because harmful bacteria find it difficult to survive in dense fat, and because once in the storage jar the meat is totally immersed in the fat, therefore the air can't get to the meat. As a food, it works because the fat and herbs infuse the meat, it is so tender and tasty it is total eating pleasure
Whilst historically Confit was just kept in a cool larders or cellars and didn't have to be chilled to stay fresh, I would suggest that you refrigerate your duck Confit just to be on the safe side.

The legs and thighs are the fattiest portions of the bird and therefore they are the ones to use. In this Recipe, because the legs are allowed to sit overnight or longer in salt and herb rub, it is worthwhile investing in good quality herbs. This then becomes a good way of not only preserving the meat but imparting great flavors into the meat and fat too.

Once finished, your Confit can be safely stored in the fridge or a very cool place for up to six months, plus, once you have used the duck legs up, the remaining duck fat can be used for making roast potatoes, lovely.

Ingredients
4, 6 or even 8 whole duck legs with thigh attached, (1 or 2 per person)
3 or 4 tablespoons of non-iodized salt to rub into the skin,
Herb mix to also incorporate with the salt, this can include:
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 or 4 cloves garlic, chopped,
2 or 3 crushed juniper berries,
Some sprigs of Thyme to taste,
1 or 2 bay leaves again to taste,
Enough melted duck fat to cover the meat.

Method:

1. Mix all of the seasonings together; pierce the skin of the Duck with a fork or probe, then rub in the mixture to the Duck joints (Fig 1).

2. Place in a container with a lid or zip top bag and put into the refrigerator for 24 to 72 hours (Fig 2).

3. Remove from the liquid that has formed, brush off the excess seasonings and dry with a paper towel.

4. Preheat the oven to 225°F (107°C).

Figure 1 Figure 2 Figure 3

 

5. Place the duck legs in a single layer, skin side up in a roasting tin (Fig 3). Pour the melted duck fat over top and place in the oven for 3 to 4 hours turning every hour until the meat has shrunk away from the bone and could be easily pulled apart and the skin is crisp and golden brown (Fig 4).

6. To preserve: Place the meat in a deep storage jar, jug or pot which is large enough to take all of the legs (Fig 5). Pour enough fat over the cooked duck to completely cover the meat and bone, put a lid on or cover with tinfoil, allow the fat to solidifying and refrigerating (Fig 6).

Figure 4 Figure 5 Figure 6

 

7. When you want to use the legs, remove from the fridge a few hours before you need them, once the fat is softened enough to pull the meat out, remove the number of legs you want, using a spoon scrape off as much fat as you can back into the container. Once this is done return the container to the fridge. Obviously, if you are using all of the meat then just remove as much fat from the meat as possible and retain to cook with. Retain the fat in the fridge or try to use the fat within 2 to 3 weeks as there will be pieces of Duck in the fat.

You can serve by reheating in the oven or a pan until hot, dish up with Green Beans, Peas or Lentils/Spinach in cream along with Dauphinoise Potatoes. You can shred the Duck then served cold with Salad – however, I would recommend you serve it hot in order to appreciate the true delicacy of this dish; I have even had this with French Fries or Chips as we call them in England.

This can also be done with Belly Pork. Slice off the Pork skin, roll up tight and tie with string. Melt enough fat in a Casserole pan to immerse the Pork in it; place the lid on, then slowly cook in the oven for 3 to 4 hours (266°F or 130°C), remove and allow to drain. You can then choose to serve immediately, which is the most wonderfully tender pork, or retain as with the Duck in a jar fully covered with fat.

Serving