Duck Confit

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One of the simplest grand meals in the world is confit of duck or goose, cooked in its rendered fat and then preserved in it. It is also one of the easiest, because once you spend a day making the confit, it takes only ten minutes to heat it in the oven or broiler or on a grill. Since it will last for weeks in the refrigerator, it is the ultimate fast food. This is a recipe for one duck, but it is better to cook about four, once you have decided to do the work. One never has enough duck fat with a single duck, so I save up the fat and freeze it until I have enough to make confit. You can supplement it with chicken fat.

Ingredients

  • 1 duck, quartered
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • ¼ cup mixed dried herbs (thyme, marjoram, and bay leaf), crumbled
  • 1 tablespoon peppercorns, crushed
  • ½ tablespoon allspice berries, crushed
  • ½ tablespoon juniper berries, crushed
  • 8 cups solid (unrendered) duck fat from the cavity and legs, etc.
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves

Method

Rinse the duck and pat dry. Mix the salt, dried herbs, and crushed spices in a bowl. Coat each piece of duck thoroughly with the salt mixture; put the duck in a dish, sprinkle with more of the salt mixture. Refrigerate for 24 hours, turning every 6 hours.

To render the duck fat, put the solid fat in a pot with 5 times the volume of water as duck fat. Bring to a boil and simmer for 2 hours. Do not let the water boil away. Strain, save the debris, and refrigerate the fat and water until the fat is hard. Lift off the fat and discard the water. (Fry and then chop the debris for use in omelets or salads.)

Wipe the duck pieces free of salt. Melt the rendered duck fat and put the pieces in it, fitting tightly so that the duck is covered with the fat. Simmer very gently until the duck is tender when pierced with a skewer, about 1 hour. (The breast pieces will be done first.) When they are cooked, take the pieces out and set aside. Strain the fat and let sit until the juices fall to the bottom. Carefully lift the fat off with a ladle so that you do not get any of the juices in the fat. Put the duck in a clean jar or crock and pour the fat over. Let cool in the refrigerator and then cover. The duck must be covered entirely with fat—it will then keep up to 2 months in the refrigerator. It has only to be heated in a tablespoon of its fat in a 400°F oven for 15 minutes before serving.

The illustration shows confit served with roasted peppers cut into squares and potato pancakes cooked in rendered duck fat, and garnished with basil and parsley leaves.

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