Whether you are familiar with French cuisine or love cooking it, it is highly likely that you have heard the word “Confit”. A method of preservation that dates to prehistoric times to ensure accurate food storage during winter.
This ancient method of preserving meats originates from southwest France. An ideal cooking technique that can be used for preparing various types of meats suitable for low and slow cooking. Back in the days it was traditionally used for goose, pork, and duck. In recent years, confit found its way to the modern kitchen where many young chefs apply this technique to vegetables and chicken resulting in delectable dishes.
Duck confit is a favorite in the French region of Gascogne. It is prepared by taking duck legs and cooking them in duck fat for about two and a half to three hours at a low temperature.
Once cooked, the duck legs are covered with the rendered fat and stored in the fridge in an airtight container for several weeks. By covering the duck legs with the rendered fat, it creates an impassable protection that prevents any bacterial growth. This way the lightly cooked duck legs are nearly sterile as they are submerged and cut off from any potential bacterial contamination.
The result is a versatile protein that can be eaten as is or it can be shredded and tossed into salads, make a rillette or you can even make delicious “Argentinian empanadas” or a luxurious sandwich. Apart from duck, you can also confit fish, meat, and vegetables such as garlic and tomatoes.
Once considered a preservation method, cooking and keeping duck in its rendered fat results in a very flavorful, moist and melt in your mouth tender duck legs.
GARLIC CONFIT: You might think this cooking technique is only for professional chefs, but no worries, you can also easily elevate your home cooking by using this method. It is quite simple, here is how.
Use a whole garlic head, peeled, and placed in a small saucepan over medium heat covered with either duck fat or light olive oil.
When the oil starts to simmer, reduce the heat to low and simmer until the garlic becomes soft and tender. The garlic cloves become slightly sweet and can be used in various preparations such as garlic butter, sauces, tossed in salads or dressings.
CLASSIC DUCK CONFIT:
RECIPE: Serves 8
8 tablespoons coarse sea salt
12 Bay leaves (preferably fresh)
4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
6 fresh thyme sprigs
16 juniper berries, lightly crushed
6 sprigs fresh thyme
Coarsely ground black pepper
8 duck legs with thighs
2 kg of duck or goose fat
Preheat the oven to 160° C/350°F.
Sprinkle half of the salt on the bottom of a roasting pan where they can fit snuggly together. Place the duck legs over the salt on the bottom of the pan, sprinkle the rest of the salt on top, season with black pepper and tuck the herbs in the pan between the duck legs. Cover and leave in the fridge overnight.
Melt the duck fat in a small saucepan. Carefully brush all the salt and seasonings off the duck. Place the duck legs in a single layer of a high rim ovenproof baking dish.
Pour the melted fat over the duck. Make sure the duck legs are completely submerged in the duck fat. Place in the oven and let it cook slowly on a simmer with just an occasional bubble for about 2-3 hours. When the duck is tender, it will easily come of the bone. Remove the duck from the oven and let it cool completely. Once it is completely cooled, store the duck in its fat in the fridge. This can be stored a few weeks.