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How I came to make confit of duck

At the time when I posted the duckkeeper’s pie recipe I was travelling through France on a regular basis picking up cheap (well, reasonable) tins of confit de canard at a favourite supermarket. I made the rash assumption that all french supermarkets supplied the same. For various reasons I have recently been having to stop at different supermarkets and either it isn’t stocked as ubiquitously as I thought… or it is hiding from me. Although you can buy tinned confit in the UK, I have an aga, so really, I have no excuses….I have the ideal facilities, I should just get on and learn how to make it. And this post is the result of my investigations.

 

Where does the term ‘confit’ come from?

The term ‘confit’ comes from the French confire, to preserve, and it simply means to cook and preserve in a liquid which is inhospitable to bacteria – most usually fat (for meat) or concentrated sugar syrup (for fruit).

 

Why confit?

It’s a particularly effective way of tenderising meat which has a lot of connective tissue – an especially good example of which is duck. Originally this method was used as a means of preserving before fridges were invented, and, as a kind of ‘belt and braces’ the meat was first cured overnight in salt.

 

What can you confit?

I’ve also confit-ed chicken legs quite successfully in the past, and I understand goose legs are also good, and belly of pork if it is crisped up by frying briefly over a high heat just before serving.

 

How long does it take?

Allow a day to do this – an hour or so to marinate, and a minimum of four hours cooking time. Within reason, the longer the cooking time, and the slower it is cooked (lower temperature) the better the meat will be.

 

The convenience of the confit

This would serve eight people with some fried potatoes and a green salad, but the whole point of the technique of making a confit is to preserve, and in any case the storage time is nearly as important as the cooking as part of the tenderising process so it makes more sense to make this amount (or even double) and use the meat (which simply falls away from the bone) for the odd sandwich, or in a pie…or eat it as described here, but treating it as fast food, ready-cooked and available – a quick fry up when you get home tired and late (which is why I’ve categorised it as ‘super-quick’). It will keep for several weeks (as long as it is covered by the fat) in the fridge.

 

Recipe for a confit of chicken or duck

Serves about 8

Ingredients

  • 8 chicken or duck legs
  • 6 tbsp. brandy
  • 2 teasp smoked salt (or more as long as you remove most later – the salt here is being used to achieve a sort of speeded up curing process, see above)
  • 2 teasp ground Indonesian long pepper
  • 4 cloves
  • 8 sage leaves
  • 8 sprigs of thyme (taken off stalk)
  • 8 bay leaves (snipped)
  • 1.5 kg/3.3lbs duck fat – don’t panic – none of the fat gets into the meat, most of it drains off
  • 8 cloves of garlic

IF YOU ARE EATING IT IMMEDIATELY you will also need:

Method for how to make the confit

  1. Pound the salt, pepper and cloves and half the sage, thyme and bay leaves in a mortar and pestle.
  2. Massage this mix into the chicken or duck legs, and then massage over the brandy.
  3. Leave to marinate for a couple of hours.
  4. Heat the oven to 130ºC (use the simmering oven if you have a four-door Aga).
  5. Warm the duck fat.
  6. Scrape off most of the marinade and lay the legs in a casserole dish.
  7. Pour the duck fat over to cover them completely.
  8. Add the garlic and the rest of the sage, thyme and bay leaves.
  9. Simmer gently (turn up the heat if necessary) for about four hours.
  10. Take out of the oven and allow to cool, then refrigerate.

LATER – if you want to eat them:

  1. Warm the legs up again (leave on the warming plate of the Aga if you have one) so that the fat is liquid.
  2. Take the legs out of the fat carefully (or they may fall apart) and put skin side down in a non-stick frying pan, cook over a medium heat until crispy and golden.
  3. Strain the fat to remove bits – you can use again either for more confit or for roasting potatoes.
  4. Turn the legs over to ensure the other side gets hot and serve with the fried potatoes and green salad.

 

For other posts about confit see also:

 

 

how to confit duck

confit duck

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