Friday, December 17, 2010

Duck Hunt

Nicole said...

So this isn't necessarily Holiday related, but I have a question. I have 2 breastless ducks that I was thinking of using for duck confit. I've never made confit before. What's the best way to go about it? Also, in regards to the duck fat, do I use fat from the ducks I have, do I need to some how render the fat? Thanks in advance!

Duck confit is one of my favorite foods. It's not particularly difficult, but it does take awhile. So, you're welcome to render the fat off the duck you have, but you are going to need some more, at least a pint. If you can't find duck fat, use lard. 

So, you want to cut the legs off of the carcass and cure them overnight. I use the "Green Salt" recipe from Thomas Keller: 1/2 cup kosher salt, 2 bay leaves, 2 tablespoons chopped thyme, 1/4 cup packed parsley, 1 teaspoon black peppercorn. Put all of this in a food processor and pulse it. You need about 1 tablespoon of the salt per leg, the rest throw in the freezer for another use (another confit, pork rillettes, etc.) Salt the legs and let them sit overnight. 

I like to render the fat off the carcass so its not wasted and the stock made from the bones is not muddy. To render, set your oven to 325 and slowly roast the carcass in a roasting pan with a rack. Check it after about 30 minutes. The goal here is to melt the fat without scorching either the fat or the bones. The fat will have pooled in your roasting pan, just pour it into a container, let it come to room temperature, then refrigerate. You can then use the bones to make a stock for another use.

The next day, set your oven to 200. Rinse the legs. The best cookware to use is a dutch oven, or any cookware that can be used both on the stovetop and in the oven.  Melt the fat on the stovetop. When it is warm, not hot, slip the legs in. Throughout the cooking process, the fat should stay at "a lazy bubble" according to The Joy of Cooking. Pop it in the oven and check the legs after 1 1/2 to 2 hours. When you insert a knife, the legs should offer no resistance. 

When finished cooking, take the pot out of the oven and let come to room temperature. Put in the fridge and let sit overnight. The longer the legs stay like this, the better the flavor. This process was originally a preservation technique, after all. When ready to use, gently warm the fat on the stovetop until it is soft, then remove the legs. Serve chilled, or heat up in a saute pan with a spoonful of the confit fat to get the skin crispy. Depending on the size of the leg, you may need to throw them in the oven to warm them through. Take care not to overheat them.

It's certainly a bit of a project, but well worth it. Let me know how it goes!

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