Duck confit is the perfect comfort food. It’s long, low and slow cooking time allows the kitchen to warm up and the aroma coming from the oven begs you to open the door frequently to see if it’s done. Duck legs cooked in their own fat along with a good amount of garlic and little else is pure simplicity and deliciousness. As delicious as this sounds is how easy it is to make this classic French dish. No fancy pots, pans or sauces needed.
Screw macarons! Whenever we go to Paris I have to have duck confit at least one night (or twice…but who’s counting). My favorite little hole in the wall place is no longer, so I look for locals recommendations and try it where they suggest. I haven’t found any quite as good as my now gone restaurant, but I’ve had no complaints about the other places where I have had it. It’s Paris…what could I bitch about?
I’ve made duck confit several times as well as lamb confit. (Confit is cooking meat in its own or some other kind of fat.) You may have heard that to make duck confit you need to track down an enormous amount of rendered duck fat. Well, you can do that (and I have) but I recently stumbled across an easier recipe that doesn’t require the selling of your precious heirlooms to procure enough duck fat to cook a few legs.
This duck confit recipe, from Bon Appetit, is simple and delicious. It’s my new “go to” recipe.
When people are trying to figure out how to cook duck, they find a couple of “how to’s” and break out in a cold sweat and decide it’s not something they feel like undertaking. You can avoid that whole panic inducing exercise by not focusing on how to cook duck and focus on how to cook duck legs or how to cook duck breast. Just like when you were in school and your math teacher would tell you to break the problem into smaller pieces. This approach works just as well (probably better since story problems still haunt me) in the kitchen. I mean, would you look up how to cook a cow or how to cook beef tenderloin? Smaller pieces…smaller pieces.
This recipe from BA is great because you use the fat that’s already in the legs (there’s more than you would think) to cook the meat instead of using extra fat. Of course this also means that you’ll be eating these duck legs in a couple of days instead of a couple of months. (Traditional confit has you storing the legs in the fat you just cooked them in then stashing the whole thing in the refrigerator.) But I’m guessing you will find some way to force yourself to eat that luscious meat.
Traditional duck confit is cooked in the oven, removed from the fat, and cooked in the oven (sans fat) at a higher temperature to crisp the skin or by adding some fat to cast iron skillet and cooking the legs skin side down to crisp up the skin. The side dish is almost as good as the main – duck fat fried potatoes. If you’ve never had them, you’re in for a delicious surprise. They can be sliced and cooked in the pan or coated in the duck fat and roasted in the oven.
What else can you do with duck confit? Well, it’s one of the main ingredients in cassoulet. You can also shred the meat and use it to make spring rolls or dumplings. I’m sure you won’t have any problem finding ways to use up any leftover meat.
- 6-8 Skin on, Bone in Duck Legs
- 6 Garlic Cloves (sliced thin)
- 1 Teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- 2 Tablespoons Kosher Salt
- 6 Sprigs Fresh Thyme
- Preheat oven to 250 Farenheit.
- Use the tip of a sharp knife and prick duck leg skin all over.
- Rub legs with garlic slices (slices should stick to skin) and season legs all over with the salt and pepper.
- Place duck legs, skin side down, in a roasting pan and thyme sprigs along with ½ cup water.
- Cover pan with foil and cook until fat is rendered (there will be lots more fat than you would think), about 2 hours.
- Carefully turn duck skin side up and place it back into the pan of rendered fat. Cover pan and cook until meat is very tender and bones easily wiggle when pulled, about 2–2½ hours longer.
- Bump up the oven temperature to 400 Farenheit.
- Carefully remove the duck from the pan and place it skin side up on a rimmed baking sheet.
- Season duck with a bit more cracked pepper, if you like, and roast until skin is brown and crisp, 30–35 minutes.
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