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Homemade Duck Confit

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Yields 8 duck legs.

  • by Martha Holmberg from Fine Cooking
    Issue 103

Prepare the duck confit at least one week before serving—the flavor and texture improve as it sits.

  • 8 duck leg-thigh pieces, about 8 oz. each
  • 3 Tbs. kosher salt
  • Eight 3-inch sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 4 dried bay leaves, broken in half
  • 4 large cloves garlic, sliced
  • 8 medium sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1-1/2 quarts (3 lb.) duck fat

Tidy up the duck legs by pulling off any large bits of fat and trimming any skin that hangs way beyond the meat. (You can put the skin and fat in a small saucepan over low heat to render the fat; save this for confit or for another use.)

Sprinkle half the salt in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Lay out the sprigs of rosemary, the bay leaves, and half the garlic slices in 8 piles, put a duck leg on top of each, then press the thyme and remaining garlic on top of the duck. Sprinkle the duck with the rest of the salt and then spread it with your hands so that all sides are coated. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 hours.

Put the duck fat in a heavy Dutch oven that’s large enough to hold all the legs (they can be stacked) and heat over low heat until melted. Scrape all of the seasonings from the duck, wiping away any moisture with paper towels. Slip the duck legs into the fat and completely submerge them. Cover the pot and adjust the heat so that the fat stays just about 200°F; do not let it go over 210°F. (Be sure to check the temperature every 20 to 30 minutes to make sure it's not going too high.)

Cook until the legs are completely tender when pierced by a knife, 2-1/2 to 4 hours, depending on the size of the legs. Let them cool in the fat; when cool enough to handle, remove with tongs, taking care not to rip the skin, which will be delicate.

Arrange the legs in a crock, baking dish, or large sturdy plastic container (they can be stacked). Pour the fat through a fine strainer over the legs to cover them completely. Cover the dish tightly and refrigerate for at least 1 week before using (you can use the legs sooner, but the texture and flavor are best after this curing period). You can store the confit for up to 8 weeks.

To use, gently pry out the number of legs you need, scrape off the excess fat, and press the fat back over the remaining legs.

To eat confit as a main dish

Heat the oven to 375°F. Arrange the duck legs skin side up on a heavy rimmed baking sheet and cook until just barely heated through, about 15 minutes. Raise the heat to 425°F. Flip the legs skin side down and continue to cook until the skin is crisp and brown; use a thin spatula to remove them from the pan. If you need just a few legs' worth of confit, heat them in a skillet (preferably cast iron), and crisp the skin over medium-high heat.

Photo: Scott Phillips

I haven't tried this recipe but I can tell it would be good so am giving it 4 stars. I wanted to say that I use my electric slow cooker for confit garlic which seems a similar procedure, and it works very well. Even the slow cooker can get a little hotter than I want after several hours, so i use a removable wall timer (the kind that turns lights on and off when you are away from home) which I set for 15 minutes on and 15 minutes off for the remainder of the cooking time. This ensures that the cooker doesn't get too hot.

Use a crock pot to cook the confit, it works perfectly! No need to even bother with constant checking, it never gets too hot. Cook for about 6-8 hours, a little more better than a little less. I order the raw fat and render it myself cheaper and rendering fat is easy. Liberty Ducks has both raw duck fat and bags of duck legs for sale on their website. They are in Sonoma,ca, I don't know how widely they deliver.

I love to make this and put it over risotto

I cut this recipe down because I had to buy a whole duck to get duck legs. I only did two legs. I agree that the stovetop does seem a little unreliable for making this and it's a long time to keep an eye on the temperature. After reading the first review, I was very worried about even making duck confit. Instead I ended up cooking the two legs of my duck in a 200 degree oven for about 4 hours, maybe a little less. I used about 3/4 cup of duck fat rendered from the duck I bought and a couple of cups of rendered duck fat I bought from the grocery store, but as the stuff is not very cheap, I substituted about 1.5 to 2 cups of olive oil to completely cover the legs. It seemed to work out just fine. Other than using the stovetop, this recipe worked out quite well.

I was sadly disappointed in this recipe given the expense of the ingredients, $25.00 for the duck legs, and $8.99 per lb for the three pounds of duck fat this recipe calls for. I carefully followed the directions and found the temp impossible to control on top of the stove with the lid on the dutch oven. I have a gas stove and my burners have very low temp control. I have never made confit before, and will never use this recipe again. My duck legs were grossly over done and I am almost in tears because my intent was to make the Cassoulet recipe in theFeb/Mar 2010 magazine and I can not afford to start over. Why wouldnt you put the legs in the oven set at 200 for 2hours or more?

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