Duck confit is a moist and intensely flavoured meat; tastier than chicken but not at all gamey. The skin crisps up beautifully, sort of like bacon, only better.
Confit is made by slowly poaching seasoned duck legs in duck fat(yes, duck fat) until the meat is fall-off-the-bone tender.
While this may sound about as healthy as a bowl of poutine, duck fat is actually one of the healthier fats — it’s high in cholesterol-fighting monounsaturated fat.
You can pick up duck fat at your local butcher. If they don’t sell it, they’ll likely know someone who does. Use it as you would cooking oil — potatoes fried or roasted in duck fat are sensational.
Duck confit has more uses than you might imagine: you can serve it with lentils, as pictured, or shred the meat and tuck it into sweet peppers or ravioli, wrap it in a tortilla with pickled vegetables, mix it with white beans and roasted garlic, purée it into a fine pâté with pepper and cognac, or toss it in a salad, crispy skin and all.
Properly stored, duck confit lasts a month in the refrigerator. As if you need more reason to give it a try.
The last time I checked, Slaters First Class Meats in Victoria and Oyama Sausage Company in Vancouver, offered duck fat. This recipe is adapted from Michael Rulman and Brian Polcyn’s Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing. Originally published in Eat Magazine British Columbia Jan/Feb 2011.
1/4 cup kosher salt
■ 1 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
■ 4 garlic cloves, sliced
■ 2 large shallots , finely sliced
■ 2 tablespoons fennel seeds, lightly crushed
■ 1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley
■ 4 sprigs fresh thyme
■ 6 duck legs/thighs, preferably Brome Lake Ducks
■ Approx. 5 cups duck fat
Combine the salt with the pepper, garlic, shallots, fennel, parsley and thyme. Sprinkle half of the mixture on the bottom of a dish large enough to hold the duck pieces in a single layer. Place the duck on top of the salt mixture and then sprinkle with the remaining salt. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 to 48 hours.
Heat the oven to 240F. Melt the duck fat in a saucepan over medium low heat.
Remove the duck from the salt, rinse thoroughly and pat completely dry with paper towels. Arrange the duck pieces in a single snug layer in a wide, shallow, oven-safe saucepan, casserole or baking dish. Pour the melted fat over the duck. The duck pieces must be completely covered by fat.
Transfer the duck to the oven and gently simmer, uncovered, until the duck is tender and can be easily pulled from the bone, approximately 2 to 3 hours. Check the oven occasionally to make sure the fat is gently simmering; confit can become tough if the oven is too hot. Adjust the heat as required to achieve a very gentle simmer.
Store the duck in the fat in the refrigerator for up to one month. Excess duck fat can be strained and stored in the refrigerator for later use.
When ready to use, brown the duck pieces, skin side down in a frying pan to crisp the skin. Then transfer to a low oven until heated through, approximately 15 minutes at 325F.
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