Duck confit is a very easy dish that seems very difficult. This is a great time of year to make it, with holidays around the corner and all. “Confit” means to slowly cook a piece of meat, generally duck, goose, or pork, in its own fat until the muscles have tenderized. Basically, braising in fat. Which sounds rich, but because you are slowly cooking the meat, you are actually rendering out additional fat that is stored in the muscle, so the resulting dish isn’t unhealthy for you at all!
The ease of this dish comes from the fact that there is very little prep to do. You simply cure the legs overnight, then submerge the legs in melted fat and throw in the oven. Once cooked, the legs can keep for weeks in your fridge, as long as they are stored in the same fat they were cooked in. This recipe calls for ten legs, which will serve for at least two meals. Serve with sautéed potatoes and a vinegary salad.
Serves four (see recipe note)
- In a bowl, mix together the salt, sugar, garlic, bay leaves, peppercorns, and thyme branches. Add the duck legs to the mixture and mix well. Cover and place in the fridge to cure for at least 12 hours, or overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 250°F.
- In a sauce pot over a medium low heat, melt the rendered duck fat. Brush the excess cure off of the legs. Arrange the legs in a deep casserole or pot so they are snug. Pour the melted duck fat over the legs, ensuring they are all submerged. Cover with a lid and place in the oven for 2.5 to 3 hours or until cooked***.
- Once cooked, cool the pot on the counter for a couple of hours. It can now be stored in the fridge, or finished.
- To finish, preheat the oven to 500°F.
- Line a large frying pan or skillet with parchment paper. Remove four legs from the fat (if taking from the fridge, do this carefully as the fat may make the leg hard to remove). Lay each leg, skin side down, on the parchment paper with a little of the cooking fat. Place the pan in the oven and roast until the skin is golden brown and crispy (about 10 to 15 minutes). Remove the legs from the pan and dry them on paper towel before serving.
***Note: To test if the legs are fully cooked after the confit process, remove a leg from the pot. Holding the drumstick at the knuckle, lightly press the thigh bone and the drumstick together. When the leg is fully cooked, the joint between the two bones will give slightly. If the joint is tough, cook the confit for a bit longer. If the leg falls apart, it is overcooked (which isn’t a problem at all, other than it looking a little messy).