Confit of Duck
From Thierry Meret
Confit, a French verb that translates as “preserving,” was a medieval discovery that was first applied to fruits cooked and preserved in sugar. Now, we usually apply the term to meats – usually pork, duck or goose – that are salted and slowly cooked in their own fat. The meat is put into a container and covered with the cooking fat, which acts as a seal and preservative. Confit can be refrigerated for up to six months.
2 duck legs
2 T. kosher salt
3/4 c. duck fat
1/4 c. water
1 bay leaf
2 garlic cloves, whole
1 thyme sprig
To make the confit: Place the duck legs in a dish, skin-side down and sprinkle them with a fine layer of kosher salt. Cover the legs and refrigerate them for at least 12 hours. When you are ready to make the confit, brush off the remaining salt from the legs, rinse them under cold water and dry them well.
Place the legs in a small saucepan just large enough to hold them, along with the fat, water, bay leaf and garlic cloves, and bring the mixture to a temperature of about 158°F. This step is very important, and the use of a food thermometer to monitor the temperature is recommended. Cook the legs for about 2-1/2 to 3 hours, or until the meat feels extremely tender when you insert a small knife into the flesh.
Remove the legs and place them in a jar. Strain the cooking liquid through a fine mesh strainer. Allow it to rest for five minutes to separate the fat (top) from the water (bottom). Gently scoop enough of the fat to completely cover the duck legs. Allow the legs and fat to cool, then refrigerate the confit. It will keep up to a week. Strain and reserve the remaining fat in the freezer for future use.
To serve the confit: Preheat the oven to 365°F. Remove the legs from the jar and scrape off the fat. Heat a cast-iron or other oven-proof pan to medium heat, place the legs skin-side down into the pan and allow the skin to crisp up. When the skin is crisp, put the pan in the oven for about 10 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 140°F. Serve immediately atop a salad with sautéed pommes Sarladaise that you make by roasting sliced potatoes in duck fat with garlic and chopped parsley. Serves 2.