Friday, November 29, 2013
When life gives you the opportunity to buy 4 ducks legs for a completely crazy price of $10, those moments should be embraced, I was at, of all places, the local supermarket in Karori where I spied a pair of packets of a pair of duck legs heavily reduced by a third because the expiry date was looming. I swear they never sell at this supermarket and sit in the fridge until they are reduced. So they were swiftly procured with the aim to cure and confit. Small problem was the lack of duck fat, but no matter the legs got deposited in the freezer until I managed to pick some up, which I also managed to snap up cheaply at Moore Wilson’s bulk section, they sell duck fat frozen a lot cheaper than they do ‘fresh’.
I’ve previously posted about sous vide duck confit, but this time I wanted to do it traditionally and also give this lot a chance to age submerged and protected in its fat, so at the moment I have four portions in the fridge and an agonising wait for at least a month before I dig beneath the lush white fat and dig out a leg or two.
Duck confit is simple to prepare just a little planning and patience, but it’s all pretty much hands off work. You’ll need enough Kosher salt to coat the legs, I used about a cup, and a good bunch of thyme. In a bowl bash the thyme and salt together to release the aromatics, toss the legs in the salt and pat on the salt, then in a dish just large enough to fit the legs in a single layer make a bed with the thyme and enough salt to cover the bottom, lay the legs in the dish and pat on any remaining salt, make sure all the flesh is covered. Cover the dish in clingfilm and refrigerate for 24 hours.
Remove the duck from the salt, rinse and thoroughly pat dry with some paper towels or clean tea towel, place the legs in a ceramic or non-reactive metal oven dish just big enough to hold them. Scatter over a couple of bay leaves, peppercorns and peeled cloves of garlic. Heat enough fat to cover the duck in a pot to 100°C. Carefully pour the fat over the duck and place the lid on the dish, or cover in tinfoil. Put the dish in an oven preheated to 100°C and cook for 4 hours. You can tell it’s cooked when the flesh is pulling away from the bone.
Remove the dish from the oven and leave it somewhere until it’s cool enough to handle. Carefully remove the legs from the fat and place them into a sterile container. Ladle the fat through a sieve into a bowl, be careful not to disturb the layer of liquid on the bottom it will spoil the confit, it is confit jelly and is an amazing stock for sauces, pour enough fat over the duck to submerge it and then cover with some clingfilm and leave to until cool enough to transfer to the fridge, any left over fat can be frozen and reused for the next batch of confit or roasting potatoes, you should get a couple of confits out of it before it becomes too salty. Pour the jelly through a sieve into a container and refrigerate.
The confit should last six months in the fridge, and I’m planning on aging my batch for a month, but you could just refrigerate overnight and cook the next day. When ready to eat the lush legs remove the confit from the fridge a couple of hours before to let the fat soften, preheat the oven to 220°C, carefully dig the legs out and gently scrape off any excess fat, place skin side down on a very hot oven proof sauté pan and cook for 5 minutes, the skin must be crisp, place in the oven and cook for 5–10 minutes.