Confit D’oie, Confit de Canard

Goose or Duck Preserved in Fat

Confit d’oie is one of those legendary preparations of French country cooking which has been made for centuries. Pieces of goose or duck preserved in fat still play a considerable role in much of the cooking of south-west France, most notably in cassoulet. As with several other foods that are still made as a matter of course in farmhouses, confit d’oie is expensive to buy, yet is simple and satisfying to make at home. I find the ideal time to preserve goose or duck in this way is during January when there is a supply of Christmas goose fat to hand. At other times pork fat can be used just as well.

Ingredients

  • half a goose or a duck
  • 2 tablespoons coarse sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme, ground in a coffee mill
  • 2 bay leaves, broken in small pieces
  • 6 cloves, crushed
  • 680 g( lb) goose, duck or pork fat

Method

Cut the goose or duck into 6 pieces, separating the legs and wings, and cut up the carcass. Arrange the pieces in a single layer on a large plate and sprinkle with the salt, ground thyme, bay leaves and cloves. Cover and leave in a cold place or a refrigerator for 8–24 hours.

Transfer the goose or duck to a hot cast-iron casserole and sauté, skin side down, for about 15 minutes until the fat runs. Turn the meat once or twice as it cooks.

Spoon the goose fat over the meat. Cover the casserole and cook in a slow oven (Mark 2, 150°C, 300°F) for 1½–2 hours or until the meat falls from the bone.

Cool slightly; then spoon a layer of the cooking fat into one or two stoneware pots. There are straight-sided brown glazed pots specially made for confit d’oie; they are available from David Mellor or Habitat in Britain. Chill the pot until the fat is set. Meanwhile take off the meat from the larger bones – if your pots are small it is best to take all the meat off the bones. Pack the meat into the pots and spoon fat over to cover completely. Allow to set, and then keep the pots chilled in a very cold place until needed.

Traditionally a cloth is placed on top of the fat just before it sets. A layer of salt is spread over it and a paper cover is tied in place.

Spoonfuls of confit d’oie are added to soups and casseroles and larger amounts are extracted by standing the pot in hot water until the fat melts sufficiently for the meat to be lifted out.

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