It’s been almost ten years since we made this recipe and it’s still as good as it gets.
One of the great challenges I face is to constantly look for new recipes, new combinations and new takes on the classics. When you think about it, almost any home cook, blogger or not, faces the exact same thing every week. What to put on the table for variety and just eating a balanced diet. One thing most home cooks likely don’t do is to cook something new virtually every night of the week. For 9 years.
Truly, aside from classics like Lauren’s Roast Chicken and my Bourbon Chili, both of which I made this week, I am always on the lookout for variety. This week’s turn at the grocery store was a big help in menu planning. I picked up a package of meat marked Ground Beef for Chili went right home and made the Bourbon Chili. Then I spied some really meaty, good-size Moulard duck legs. They were from Bella Bella Gourmet Foods in West Haven CT. They sell all kinds of poultry raised in Sullivan County, New York. That’s where their Moulard Ducks come from. The breed is a cross between a male Muscovy and a female Peking Duck. It creates a perfect sized duck with plenty of meat on it. If you can’t find duck legs at your local market, you can order directly from Bella Bella at www.bellagourment.com.
We’d always saved Duck confit for a rare treat. It is a decadent, rich, and luscious. It’s almost sinfully crunchy. We’ve reserved for restaurant visits–not just because it’s hardly health food. The recipe we knew called for copious amounts of very expensive duck fat and a very laborious cooking time. But when Melissa Clark, our favorite New York Times recipe maven, put this recipe in the paper in January 2010, we couldn’t resist. It still involves an overnight spice and salt mixture, and it takes 3 ½ hours-time to cook but the actual active cooking is minimal. Do make extra confit because, after the recipe, I’ve posted a link to a Duck Confit Salad that will make a wonderful addition to your mid-week repertoire.
The original method for making Duck Confit is to cure them in spices and salt and then submerge them in duck fat and cook them very slowly until they emerge crispy and crunchy from the oven. But just imagine the amount of duck fat needed. That’s why Melissa’s recipe is such a godsend if you like Duck Confit that won’t bankrupt you.
The recipe relies solely on the naturally occurring fat on the duck legs you’ll buy. You simply won’t believe how much fat is rendered in the cooking process! It’s actually kind of scary thinking “Was I really going to eat all that fat?” But remember, duck fat is actually healthier than butter…although it’s hardly on anyone’s ‘superfoods’ list. If you are interested in the actual numbers, you’ll find them in the Duck Confit salad post. But save whatever’s left over and use it sparingly with the roast potatoes you serve with this dish. Save the rest for sautéing something bland…like chicken breasts. And serve the duck and potatoes with an arugula salad, as we did. The flavors seem made for each other. Do take a look at some alternate duck recipes, including one you may want to clip for Valentine’s Day. Here is the recipe for Easy Duck Confit.
Easy Duck Confit
An absolutely superb way to enjoy the wonderful richness and mouth-watering crispness of a true Duck confit.
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 bay leaf, crumbled
- 4 moulard duck legs (about 4 pounds total), rinsed and patted dry but not trimmed
- Roasted potatoes, noodles and sturdy, bitter greens such as arugula, chicory and/or radicchio, for serving.
- Step 1 In a small bowl, combine salt, pepper, thyme and bay leaf pieces. Sprinkle duck generously with mixture. Place duck legs in a pan in one layer. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 hours.
- Step 2 The next day, heat oven to 325 degrees. Place duck legs, fat side down, in a large ovenproof skillet, with legs fitting snugly in a single layer (you may have to use two skillets or cook them in batches). Heat duck legs over medium-high heat until fat starts to render. When there is about 1/4 inch of rendered fat in pan, about 20 minutes, flip duck legs, cover pan with foil, and place it in oven. If you have used two pans, transfer duck and fat to a roasting pan, cover with foil and place in oven.
- Step 3 Roast legs for 2 hours, then remove foil and continue roasting until duck is golden brown, about 1 hour more. Remove duck from fat, reserve fat for other uses.
- Step 4 Serve duck hot or warm, over roasted potatoes or noodles or sturdy salad greens.
Some other Duck Dishes you might like….