I recently had a get-together with some friends that I’ve been planning for months now. I love throwing dinner parties and plotting a menu that takes me forever to decide on. It allows me to try out any recipes I’ve been marking or any creative ideas that have been spinning around waiting to come to life. One item in particular that I wanted to make was duck confit.
Discovering Duck Confit
If you have never had duck confit, then I highly recommend you find some duck legs, a ton of duck fat (no really, like 2 quarts), and a glass of wine or beer–because they have to cook low and slow.
When I first tried duck confit my first reaction was, “Where has this been all my life?” Tender, luscious duck confit, seasoned perfectly with warm spices and aromatics that go with practically anything. Duck confit can be paired with a lot of things.
Think crispy potatoes.
A nice salad with pickled beets.
The sky is the limit. For duck confit, I particularly love the spice blend of toasted allspice, clove, black peppercorns, coriander, salt, and fresh thyme.
When prepping the duck legs, make sure to take a knife and score around each end of the leg. Make sure to cut through the tendon. When meat cooks it shrinks, so if you want a nice presentation when serving, make sure to do this.
For the cure, I toasted the spices and blended them up in a spice grinder. I just cured the flesh side and not the skin. Roughly for each leg, you want 1 teaspoon to 1 1/2 teaspoon on each leg and let it cure overnight.
There are many ways to make your cure. You can even add a little bit of sugar to the process or omit it entirely.
If you are unable to find duck fat, olive oil can be used. I had to use olive oil this round because I could not find any duck fat. The oil can be saved and will be flavorful. Use it for fried eggs in the morning or to toss over some potatoes and roast until tender and crispy.
Do you find making duck confit intimidating? I would like to know!
Duck Confit Recipe
- 1 cup kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon allspice berries
- 4-5 whole cloves
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon coriander
- a few fresh thyme
- 8 whole duck legs
- 6 to 8 cups of duck fat or olive oil
- 2 heads of garlic cut in half
- a bunch of fresh thyme
- 3 fresh bay leaves or 2 dried bay leaves
- Toast the spices and grind them up. Take the leaves off the thyme sprigs and then combine them with the spices and salt. Mix thoroughly. Set aside.
- Rinse and dry the duck legs. Pull away and discard any excess fat from the duck legs. With a sharp knife or kitchen shears, score all around the bone to cut away the tendon. Season the flesh side of the legs with roughly 1 teaspoon of the salt cure, evenly. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Rinse and dry each leg with paper towels. Place in a large roasting pan skin side up with the garlic, thyme, and bay leaves. In a saucepan gently heat up your duck fat or olive oil until melted. Pour the fat over the duck legs, until covered by at least 1/4 inch. Cover with parchment paper and then with aluminum foil.
- Make sure to monitor the cooking process. After 1 hour check on the duck legs. With a small pairing knife, place in the thick part of the duck and check the resistance. It should still be pretty tough. Cook for upwards of 3 hours, making sure to check after each hour passes. You want the meat to be tender but not falling apart. Remember, once you take it out of the oven, the meat will continue to cook in the duck fat.
- When the duck is cooked, remove the foil and parchment paper and cool for 30 minutes.
- To store. Refrigerate the fat separately from the duck legs. When it cools and solidifies, you want just the fat. A lot of the meat and juices will sink to the bottom. Scoop the fat and gently reheat until melted. Place the remaining duck legs in a container. Pour the melted fat over them and make sure they are completely submerged in fat. Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 months.