Recipe Project #137: Duck Confit

I’m not a huge fan of duck by itself, but usually enjoy it as an ingredient in dishes. When Mr. Husband ordered a pound of flageolet beans from Rancho Gordo, we agreed that we were headed for a Cassoulet Experiment (which is another post altogether.) Since duck confit is a traditional ingredient in cassoulet and I didn’t want to use the plastic-packed confit that one can procure for about a zillion dollars per leg at Wegman’s, that meant making homemade confit. After a day spent googling around for local duck farms, it seemed that the best resource would be Hudson Valley Foie Gras. But I was busy and it is not a quick drive from my house. Another factor was the fact that they ship duck legs in packs of packs of six. We’ll order from them in the future, but since neither of us were actually yet sure that we liked confit enough to commit to six legs, we ended up back at Wegmans, spending $8.50 on a couple of boxed legs.

From there, things were fairly simple, if you follow Michael Ruhlman’s formulation:

  1. Day 1: Season the legs as you wish and leave them in the fridge to consider the matter. I followed Ruhlman’s recommendations except for the cloves. (You’ll find them in the link above.)
  2. Day 2: Slowly poach for approximately 10 hours in either olive oil or rendered duck fat. Your job on this day is to put the whole shebang in the oven, preferably in a very heavy pot, and then wander off to do other things for awhile. Check back somewhere around the six hour mark and if necessary look in periodically after that to wiggle a leg with a tong and determine when they’re done. Then pull the pan out, cool the legs in the fat, and eventually remove the legs to a storage container. Skim off the fat in order to use it for covering the legs. Cover tightly and refrigerate. Leave the “jelly” at the bottom of the cooking pot and reserve it for other uses.
  3. Days 3 through whenever: Leave the duck to age in the fridge for up to a month. I left mine for three weeks and it was pretty marvelous.

And that’s it. Total actual cooking time that involves you being in the same room as the duck: maybe an hour, tops. The payoff is completely inverse to your effort, and it leaves you set for a nice range of possibilities for using the confit.

And as always, if you’re interested in meat preservation, you’ll probably be interested in Ruhlman’s book Charcuterie. I’m not paid to say this; I’ve just used and enjoy this tome for years.

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