Duck Confit…

When it comes to no-frills simplicity with maximum flavor and comfort, duck confit always hits the spot for me. Whether I’m at a casual brasserie or a fancy fusion restaurant, it’s the be-all-end-all when I look at the menu and it pulls me in.

Say what?

The term confit comes from the French term confire which means to cook something slowly in a certain medium to essentially preserve it. The medium is usually oil or some kind but can also be a sugary syrup. After cooking, the food is kept in the solidified oil and can keep for weeks to months. Good luck trying to get duck confit to last longer than one night in my kitchen.

Typically the foods are salted first as a cure, especially for meats. Duck confit in particular is usually a 1-2 day process to go from salting to eating.

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As best as possible try to keep it submerged in the duck fat. Rendered duck fat can be found at a specialty food grocer, a butcher shop, or an Asian market like where I found mine (freezer section).

The cure is simply salt, sugar, thyme, pepper, and juniper berries. You can vary whatever spices you like, but I like the flavor juniper gives to duck (think prosciutto di parma type of flavor).

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Duck fat can be reused to cook anything really to add flavor, like this sweet potato side dish with fresh oregano from the garden and garlic, glazed in bourbon for the final touch.

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French duck confit wouldn’t be complete without french green beans. Blanched and sauteed in….you know what.

Duck Confit

2 legs of duck
1/4 cup kosher salt
1 T sugar
1/2 t black pepper
7-8 sprigs fresh thyme
4-5 juniper berries
2 cups rendered duck fat

Add everything but duck legs and fat in a dish and mix. Coat the dug legs well with mixture, rubbing into every nook and cranny. Place in a container and store in the fridge overnight.

The next day, melt the duck fat over low to liqufy it. Prepare the oven for 225 F. Find a pan suitable to just barely fit the duck in (I used a loaf pan). Brush the mixture off the legs and tightly fit into pan. Cover with liquid fat, put it in the oven, and cook for 2-3 hours. I took mine out at about 2.5, just when my sides were done.

In a skillet over medium high, saute the legs skin side down to crisp up the skin. Serve and enjoy!

*Note: I neglected to do this, but I should have done this simple restaurant trick. If using a full leg instead of thigh, slice all the skin/fat off then crisp it up by itself and use a weight to flatten it in the pan. This will crisp up the entire thing. Otherwise, you’ll have mushy parts around the corners of the leg. Alternatively, slice off the corners and most of the sides of the skin, leaving just the center intact for the same principle*

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