Bonjour, tout le monde.
I had a small dilemma this morning. I really fancied making a slow-cooked casserole for dinner, but also really fancied a beautifully crispy duck leg (i.e. not stewed). I’ve been considering giving confit duck a go for a little while, and decided to compromise; slow-cook the duck confit-style in the oven, and cook some root vegetables in a delicious port gravy in the slow-cooker.
Confit duck is fairly versatile – once cooked, you can reheat the whole legs and serve one per person as I have here, or shred the meat and have it with any number of salads, lentil dishes, stews, pies etc etc etc. If submerged in the cooking fat and cooled, the duck will keep for a pretty long time, the flavours developing over time.
I didn’t really have enough fat to do a traditional confit, but had read an article which claimed that it was possible to cook a confit without completely covering your duck. Working on this basis, I adjusted the recipe to suit my needs. Apparently, the real key is to use a very snugly fitting dish. Last week, I bought several trays of oven-ready roasting parsnips and potatoes in goose fat (they were only 9p – I might be quite evangelical about not buying ready-meals, but I’m even more evangelical about snapping up bargains!) which I decanted into freezer bags and shoved in the freezer. One of the disposable aluminium trays turned out to be perfect, as I could fold the edges up around the duck (not to mention not having to wash out the fat afterwards!) and I added some of the goose fat to my own reserves. And although you should technically only use duck fat (of which I had some leftover from cooking duck recently), this can be topped up with others – I just emptied my dish of rendered animal fat into the tray, which is probably a combination of pork, beef, bacon and chicken fat.
This dinner was truly delicious, even if I say so myself, and I’m very proud of myself for finally giving confit duck a go. The sauce was a triumph too – rich and sweet, but also slightly tart which cut through the duck meat perfectly.
Do you have any particular cooking goals you hope to achieve this year?
Confit de Canard with Port-Stewed Vegetables
Duck Legs (I did four – two to eat tonight and two to cover in fat in the fridge for a later date)
Duck fat (I’ve no idea how much I had, but after I’d doctored my roasting tin and snugged the legs together, the melted fat came about halfway up the side of the legs)
A couple of large dessertspoons of jam (I used damson, but plum, bramble or redcurrant would all work well)
Beef stock cube
Cornflour mixed with cold water
- Prick the skin of the duck all over. Salt your duck legs well, adding any herbs or spices you fancy. If you intend to keep the confit for any period of time (and kept properly, it can be stored for months in the fridge) then the legs will need to cure for at least 24 hours.
- Tightly pack the duck in an ovenproof tray, skin side up, and add your fat to the dish. Don’t worry if it’s solid – the heat of the oven will melt it very quickly.
- Place in the oven and switch on at a low heat. Mine was at about 150OC. Leave to cook for at least 2 hours; longer if possible (you can turn the oven down even lower at this point if you want). The fat under the skin should render out, and the meat should become meltingly tender.
- Remove from the oven. If you intend to eat the confit immediately, it can be removed from the fat. If you intend to store it, place it in an appropriate container, covered with the cooking fat and refrigerate once cool. After you have eaten the duck, the fat can be reused in other cooking.
- To make the stewed vegetables, roughly chop the onion, carrot and parsnip (you don’t have to worry about peeling them if you don’t want) and quarter the mandarin (leaving the skin on). Place in a slow cooker with enough port to just cover the veg (or port and some water if preferred), and mix in the jam, rosemary and stock. Cook on low for several hours, until the veg is soft. About 1/2 hour before serving, mix in the cornflour and water and turn the slow cooker up to high to thicken the sauce.
- To serve, warm through the duck legs on a medium-hot griddle. Ensure that the skin has crispened before serving.
- Serve with mashed potato, something green (I did sprouts, but cabbage or green beans would have worked well. You just need something to cut through the richness) and the veg-sauce.