Saturday 30 May 2009

Recipe: Duck Confit

Nothing to beat it - a deliciously crisp skin, and meat in which the flavours have been richly concentrated by long slow cooking. There's no waste, as the meat falls cleanly from the bones; and it's a time-efficient dish as well, since the process of re-heating the pieces of confit takes only twenty minutes or so in a medium-hot skillet...which is perfect for post-cinema supper, for instance, or having just got home, at the end of a long day.

These days, I generally make confit from the legs and wings of any duck I buy. The bird is boned, breasts are reserved to be grilled separately (from a decent sized bird, two breasts will be ample for four servings), the bones make a rich stock, the fat is trimmed and reduced for future use, and the legs and and wings go for confit. That way, one bird has the makings of six different dishes for two people, which is pretty efficient household management however you look at it.

Ingredients: Legs and wings from a duck ( a 2.5 kilo bird is a decent size for this- you can use smaller, but a bird this size will give generous servings); 2 tsp Salt; approx a dozen grindings of Black Pepper; 3 dried bay leaves, crumbled; 2 tsp dried Thyme; duck fat, approx 1 pint.


1. Place the duck pieces in a bowl, and coat them with all of the other ingredients, apart from the duck fat.

2. Heat the oven to 150 degrees C.

3. In a large, heavy pan, fry the pieces for ten minutes or so on each side over medium heat. They should be lightly browned all over.

4. Place the browned duck pieces in a shallow oven-proof dish, pour the fat over them, and cook in the pre-heated oven for two and a half hours.

5. Leave to cool completely in the fat, and then store the confit (still encased in fat) somewhere cool. When you want to eat it, pull the pieces of confit from the fat and fry gently for twenty minutes or so, until heated through. The fat can be retained for making future confit, or just for use as a frying agent in the kitchen.

Theoretically, the confit will be fine to eat even if left for for several months - I think the longest I've managed to last is about three weeks before breaking down and serving it!

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