One of the most succulent foods I have ever tasted, duck confit is nearly irresistible. It's deep, rich flavor stands up to any savory ingredient I have ever used. I once remembering scalding a pot of rendered duck fat while apprenticing at the Heathman Hotel in Portland, Oregon. My sous chef was so pissed off and until recently, I didn't truly understand why. Duck fat is like culinary gold. The creamy white fat creates such delicious meals. Take one bite of duck fat fries or potato chips and you will understand why!
I recently picked up several ducks for a catering event and was left with a pile of duck legs as well as carcasses which were loaded with fat. I took my utility knife to my honing steel then trimmed them all up as best as I could. I was meticulous to get every little morsel as I had good intentions of use. I took a gallon or so of fat and slowly rendered it over the course of an hour or so. When every last bit of the fat was rendered off, I poured nearly two gallons into Mason jars and stored them away in the root cellar. In the pan was left a pile of crisp duck cracklings that after a touch of sea salt made a delicious crunchy snack.
How to Make Duck Confit
- 4 duck legs
- 1 quart of rendered duck fat
- a few pinches of sea salt
- 1 tablespoon black pepper corns
- a few sprigs of thyme
- 1 rosemary stalk
- zest of an orange or lemon
- Choose a pan large enough to hold all the ducks legs. Heat it over medium-high until nice and hot. Season the legs with sea salt and black pepper. Place in the pan, skin side down and cook until the skin begins to crisp and is golden brown.
- The fat will render and a lot of liquid may fill the pan. If so, simply pour off for the time being. Once well browned, turn off the heat and pour in the reserved duck fat. Add the herbs, garlic, and seasonings. Place directly into a 250°F oven or transfer into a half hotel pan, cover then cook for 3-4 hours.
- At this point the meat should easily flake off the bone.
- Remove from the oven, allow to cool to room temp, then place in the fridge for a few days. To serve, pull the legs out from the fat then warm in the oven, on a skillet, or in the broiler to crisp the skin.
- The confit can be stored for several weeks if kept under the fat. To reuse or store the fat, gently warm and strain out the herbs and and sediment.
Duck fat has a high smoke point which means you can cook at higher temperatures without smoking or losing it's rich flavor. You can also recycle the fat from dish to dish as opposed to tossing afterwards. Make sure to always avoid olive oil, or butter or any vegetable oil that have lower smoke points if you're going to cook with it, as you'll essentially make them rancid and full of free radicals when you heat them. Duck fat, ghee, coconut oil, tallow, and lard are great fats for cooking!