Recently my friend mentioned she wanted to learn to make confit, duck confit and I blustered, "I can show you" knowing full well I'd never confited duck much less watched someone else.
For rescue, I turned to my Julia books, the last words (for me) on classic French cooking. I found a recipe covering both sides of two pages with notes directing the cook to an additional recipe taking up both sides of another page. The combined directions detailed a time consuming process that called for, among other things, pounds of melted duck fat, esoteric equipment and herbs (that despite my extensive collection) I had never heard of.
Not easily dissuaded, I also searched the web, my faithful Larousse , a 40 year old NY Times Cookbook written by Craig Claiborne (no mention there of confit) and an even older book written in French (I used WordMonkey to translate).
What follows is an amalgam of ingredients and procedures and pictures of some of the steps. And my reactions to this first attempt at making duck confit? Not bad. Would I do it again? Yes! in exactly the same way. I enjoyed the challenge; it was fun (and it didn't taste half bad).
- 2 fresh duck legs with thigh attached
- 4 juniper berries
- 6 pepper corns
- 4 whole cloves
- ¼ tsp dried thyme or 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- Pinch allspice
- 4 TBS Kosher salt
- 1 TBS sugar
- 2 large cloves of garlic, peeled, left whole
- Optional additional seasonings: pinches of fresh nutmeg, cinnamon, cumin, coriander, dried ginger
- Regular olive oil to cover the duck legs by 2”. I used almost all of a 34-ounce bottle
- Using a mortal and pestle, lightly crush the juniper berries, clove and peppercorns together.
- Crumble in the bay leaf, dried thyme, all spice, salt and sugar and mix everything together. If you are using fresh thyme, do not add it yet.
- Select a porcelain or glass dish (with sides) that will hold the legs snugly.
- Spread half the mix on the bottom of your dish along with 2 sprigs fresh thyme (if you are using fresh).
- Put the duck legs in the dish, skin side up and spread the remaining mix over the skin side of the duck. Put one sprig of fresh thyme (if you are using fresh) over the top of each leg.
- Cover tightly and refrigerate undisturbed for 48 hours.
- Preheat over to 225°
- Remove the duck legs from the cure and brush off as much of the mix as you can.
- Return the ducks to a high sided oven proof container and cover them with the olive oil. The oil should come over the legs by about 2”
- Float in the two cloves of garlic.
- Slowly poach the duck, uncovered, for 3 hours or until the duck starts coming off the bone.
- Do not let the oil bubble. It should cook very slowly and have little or no bubbling.
- After the duck is cooked, remove it from the oil and put it into a clean glass or porcelain container large enough to hold the legs and all the oil.
- Remove the garlic cloves and save them for slathering on a crusty piece of bread: cook's treat!
- Strain the oil and pour it over the duck legs. Be sure the cooked duck is fully submerged in oil. Leave the duck to cool and then cover tightly and refrigerate. It will keep up to 3 months.