Monday, December 20, 2010

Confit of Duck

There may be a theme emerging. Fatty, unctuous meats cooked slowly and often more than once. This is no coincidence. Confit of duck is one of my favourite things in the world of food; the first thing I look for on a restaurant menu, and one of the reasons for which I love the south-west of France so much. (Even if it is a little distance from here...)

And yet, I've never cooked a confit of duck (nor any other meat for that matter), so I thought I'd better start somewhere, and christmas seemed a better place than most. This year, LW and I are going to spend christmas afternoon with our good friends with whom we share soup and sandwiches over the winter months. We're sharing the cooking, and then we shall, in traditional style, eat too much, and snooze...

So to the confit. 2 days ago, I butchered two ducks into portions: 4 legs, 8 pieces of breast and wing.

I then thoroughly seasoned the meat with a dry rub of salt (loads) pepper, thyme, bayleaf and garlic. The pieces were then packed into a baking dish and allowed to marinade for 48 hrs in the fridge.

Today, I batch fried the pieces in a little oil to brown the surfaces of the meat and skin.

Meanwhile, in a low oven (140 degC) I melted my entire collection of duck fat. This was about 1.5 litres of it, including the fat rendered from the pieces whilst I browned them.

Once the browning was done, I packed the pieces as tightly as I could into the baking dish full of melted duck fat (it nearly covered them)
and put the whole lot in said low oven for 2 hours, at which point the meat should be nearly falling off the bone (but not quite). Any portions that were not completely covered by fat need turning 2-3 times during the process.

This is as far as I have gone as I write.

The next stage will be to allow the whole lot to cool, and then pack it into sterile preserving jars until we get hungry. They'll keep like this for months if necessary, but it's unlikely that any will last as long as that due to the seductive power of the canard.

To cook, the meat simply needs cooking very hot in an oven for another 5 minutes until the skin is frispy. The fat can be recycled for another day. Needless to say, none of it goes to waste; it's the best thing in the known universe.

Photos will be posted. Duck will be eaten, and, in related news, we have several ducklings running around the garden, blissfully unaware of their rather tenuous future. Forage, my pretty ones, live lives of reckless joy...


  1. I love this, but I have to say, I think it is the legs that are the yummiest. Have been meaning to make some but have not got round to it, seeing this has reminded me to do it. Also I have a huge craving for skirlie!

  2. This sounds tremendously delicious. I can nearly taste it...

    Poor ducklings, though. :)