Duck Confit: Not Fast, Just Easy

Staff Writer
Consider adding duck confit to your list of cooking staples
Duck Confit
Robert Rabine

Duck Confit

I discovered duck confit late in life. One taste of its gamey lusciousness and lifelong bonds were formed. It has become sort of a culinary co-dependence, really, a desperately needed monthly fix. The word confit is a generic French term for various kinds of food that have been immersed in a substance for both flavor and preservation. To me, it means existential bliss. A specialty of southwest France, confit is one of the oldest known methods of preservation. Waterfowl legs and pork (mostly) are marinated and salted for a couple days and then slow-cooked while submerged in its own rendered fat. Once cool, the meat is preserved under that layer of fat and can last for months in the right spot, like your own refrigerator. 

Duck legs and breasts are now readily available at my local market. They come individually packaged and are reasonably priced. Most convenient. While whole ducks are always available, unfortunately, if you are not that handy with a boning knife, they are a tad more difficult to butcher than a chicken… and you'll need three of them. The good news is that for your effort you also get the breasts for searing and the chassis of the animal for duck stock and glaze.  

Duck fat availability is another story. I’ve been making confit for years so I have pounds of duck fat in my freezer. You probably do not, but you have a couple options: The D’Artagnan company sells duck fat (now that’s a slogan). A little pricey, but hey, if you’re a purist you won’t mind the upfront cost. If you are more frugal, you can use vegetable oil in your “primer “batch. Simply cover the duck legs with the oil instead of duck fat.

I confit 6-8 legs at a time and forget about them in the back of the refrigerator until I accidentally rediscover them and then grin. I scoop them out and pull the meat from the bone for all sorts of wild things: wilted frisée salad, spring rolls, enchiladas, rillettes, tostones, or cassoulet. The list is endless. I also use a couple tablespoons of the extra duck fat (dutifully stored in my freezer) for frying potatoes.

Click here to see the Duck Confit recipe.