Duck confit is a classic French country kitchen classic. It is popular for its delicious taste and approach to preserving duck. It involves cooking duck in its own fat slowly and for a long time. The combination of curing the duck meat in salt and cooking it slowly in fat inhibits bacterial growth. This has been the preferred method for preserving meat before refrigeration was introduced. But, today, it is about flavour and tenderness.
Duck confit originated in France and is made with the duck’s legs. While a lot of regions in the country make this dish, confit is a specialty of Gascony. You can also purchase duck confit in cans in other places in France. But, cooking duck legs confit is very simple to do by yourself. Traditionally, the French store duck confit in glazed earthenware pots. But, you can use big Pyrex bowls or covered casseroles if you don’t have those pots.
Preparing and Cooking the Duck Confit
Preparing a confit includes rubbing the duck legs with salt, garlic, and herbs like rosemary, thyme, or crushed bay leaves. You can also include spices such as anise. The next step is to cover the confit and refrigerate it for up to 36 hours. Salt-curing the duck will preserve it.
After the curing process, the spices must be rinsed from the meat, which will be patted dry. Then, place the legs in a cooking dish deep enough to contain the meat and the rendered fat. Place the dish in an oven at a low temperature for 2 ½ hours. Once done, crisp the legs in a hot pan before serving, producing a savoury and robust meat.
Preserving the Confit
Once cooked, lift the duck legs from the fat onto a plate. Strain the fat through a coffee filter or a fine sieve. Put the legs into a clean jar and cover with the duck fat. Then, close the lid and leave to cool before refrigerating it.
Consuming the Confit
When you are ready to consume the confit, just reheat it. Gently warm the jar in hot water to soften the fat. Lift the duck legs from the fat and put them into a hot frying pan skin-side down and cook them for 3-4 minutes. After this, turn the legs over, skin side up and put them in a hot oven until heated right through for around 20 minutes. Then, it is time to serve your confit and enjoy the fruit of your labour.