Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Confit de Canard

I had such a wonderful weekend with food and friends and fat.

Check it:
  • Spontaneous Armenian barbeque -- brought to our door.
  • Quail, beef tenderloin, sausage and lavash.
  • Morel mushrooms picked from the campus of East Los Angeles City College. (So delicious and we did not die!)
  • Lamb testicles. (So much worse than you might imagine!)
And that was just our unexpected Friday night.

Saturday afternoon however was planned. My friend Joseph had written me to ask if I might like to join him in making duck confit. Without hesitation, I said yes. There were many emails back and forth.

What kind of jars?
––2 liter glass jars with gasket seal.

Sterilization, yes or no?

Fresh or frozen duck?

Just how much duck fat would we need?
––A whole lot. Four and a half pounds for two recipes.

After the flurry of communication, we were ready to get started.

We used the recipe out of Stéphane Reynaud's Ripailles, which I believe is the same book as Stéphane Reynaud's French Feasts, just published a year earlier.

The recipe is very concise, and I get the impression that the cookbook as a whole is geared toward cooks, who have a fair amount of experience and can read between the lines and embellish as they see fit.

Since I had not made duck confit in at least ten years and Joseph had never, we were both grateful for the funny little diagram on the opposite page. We seasoned the flesh side of the duck breasts and legs with salt and pepper on Friday night, before the Armenian feast.

On Saturday afternoon, we rinsed the seasoning off, patted the duck dry, and got straight to melting duck fat.

The recipe is simple.

When the fat is melted, you add bay laurel and thyme, and the duck legs and breasts. Once the duck is immersed in the fat, it must simmer very gently for two hours.

This gives you the perfect opportunity to prepare an afternoon repast for friends. You just need to pilfer a little bit of the fat to use to roast some potatoes with green garlic. Toss some sausage in the same oven, and throw together a salad of adolescent lettuces from the C.S.A., sliced apple, a grating of parmesan, and a lemon and green garlic vinaigrette. Crack open a bottle of Picpoul de Pinet wine, and you are all set.

Even little Fe loved the potatoes.

When the two hours are up, you put the duck into very clean jars, and pour the fat in to cover. You then seal the jars with the rubber gasket.

Our plan is to tuck the duck into the back of the refrigerator, forgetting all about it for some six months until the weather cools again and the air is crisp enough to cry out for Cassoulet.

I know. Some of you are having a hard time imagining that happening in Los Angeles. But it is possible. I swear!

Because of the long storage time, sterilization is required. That simply involves placing the lovely jars of duck confit into a giant vat of boiling water for another hour.

Now we wait.

I won't be able to report back, as to the success of this recipe for a while. Look for a full report some time in October or November.

Confit de Canard (Duck Confit)

2 drumsticks from a fat duck
2 duck breasts
2 pounds 4 ounces duck fat
2 large sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
sea salt
coarsely ground black pepper

1. The day before cooking, generously salt and pepper the flesh side of the duck. Chill for twenty-four hours.

2. Rinse the duck and wipe dry. Melt the duck fat in a pot large enough to hold the duck and add the bay leaves and thyme. Immerse the duck in the fat and cook over a very low flame for two hours, with the fat just barely simmering. The flesh should flake off the bone.

3. Store the duck confit covered with duck fat.

4. If you plan to keep the duck confit for an extended period of time, sterilize by boiling the jar of duck confit in large vat of water.


Ben said...

Tried your recipe, substituting three lbs. tempeh and four sticks of margarine for the duck. It's in my fridge now, but it doesn't look too good. Really lumpy actually... will let you know though.

Ben said...

Also (and more seriously), your blog is really excellent!

Di Chapman said...

It is amazing that you would use margarine - that is made of harmful fats. Goose or Duck fat are not harmful fats and do not cause the problems of obesety and cholesterol that margarine does.

I have just made 4 jars of confit and having been brought up on chicken fat and unsalted butter all I can say is margarine is something that never passes my French door.

You cannot substitute anything for Confit of Duck - it is an ancient receipt and should be treated with respect.

jacqueline f. said...

Hi Di,

I'm quite certain Ben was just trying to pull my leg. I don't know anyone who would actually use margarine.

Thanks so much for reading! Stay tuned because we're going to use the duck confit to make cassoulet this week!