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Confit de Canard in French, this recipe is made with the leg of the duck. Confit is prepared in a centuries-old process of preservation that consists of salt curing a piece of meat (generally goose, duck, or pork) and then poaching it in its own fat. (Salt curing the meat acts as a preservative.) Duck Confit is considered a specialty of the Gascony region in southwest France.
Even today, cooking and keeping duck in its rendered fat results in meltingly tender, moist, and extremely flavorful meat which can be used in a variety of simple preparations. At the Emerson Inn where this recipe was filmed, they show you here how to serve it over a bed of wilted Napa cabbage and topped with a Balsamic & Grape Sauce.
In France some people will prepare the duck legs in confit at home, but you can skip that part of the process and buy canned Duck Confit and just make the Balsamic & Grape Sauce and the cabbage. If you make the confit at home, be aware that the poultry is cured in the refrigerator for between 24 and 36 hours with salt and perhaps some seasonings. In this case the Chef uses garlic, thyme, marjoram, juniper berries, bay leaves, and whole peppercorns before being cooked very slowly, covered in duck fat and/or a 10% oil blend. After it has been prepared, you can eat it right away or store it safely in the refrigerator covered in its fat for one or two months. Just remember the duck must be salted a day before you plan to cook it.
After soaking in the refrigerator, the meat is placed in a cooking dish deep enough to contain the meat and the rendered fat, and placed in an oven at a low temperature (170 – 275 degrees Fahrenheit). The meat is slowly poached at least until cooked, or until meltingly tender, generally four to ten hours.
The meat and fat are then removed from the oven and left to cool. When cool, the meat can be transferred to a canning jar or other container and completely submerged in the fat. A sealed jar of duck confit may be kept in the refrigerator for up to six months, or several weeks if kept in a reusable plastic container. The cooking fat acts as both a seal and preservative and results in a very rich taste. Skipping the salt curing stage greatly reduces the shelf life of the confit.
The flavorful fat from the confit may also be used in many other ways, such as a frying medium for sautéed vegetables like green beans and garlic, wild or cultivated mushrooms or savory toasts.
Duck Confit is also a traditional ingredient in many versions of a French cassoulet (a stew consisting of white beans cooked in a casserole with meat and topped with a browned crust of breadcrumbs).
For the Confit:
Duck fat (to cover legs)
1 whole yellow onion, sliced
4 whole garlic cloves
4 sprigs of thyme
4 sprigs of marjoram
4 sprigs of juniper berries
4 Bay leaves
whole black peppercorns
6 Duck legs
For Balsamic Sauce:
1 cup Balsamic vinegar
12 red grapes; slice 6 of the grapes in half
2 tablespoons butter
For Cabbage (per serving):
1/4 Napa cabbage, shredded
1/2 carrot, shredded
1 scallion, sliced in two
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon thinned out Dijon mustard (50/50 mix of Dijon with vinegar)
1. Thaw duck legs and layer in deep hotel pan with skin side up.
2. Add salt, juniper berries, bay leaves, sliced yellow onions and peppercorns.
3. Cover with duck fat and/or 10% oil mix (10% olive oil and 90% vegetable oil). Note: You can save this mix for future confit creations.
For Balsamic Sauce:
1. Heat saute pan and add Balsamic vinegar.
2. Add grapes and reduce by half.
For Napa Salad:
1. Mix vegetables in a bowl.
2. Heat pan with olive oil, add butter and continue until butter is 90% melted. Add cabbage mix. Saute with a little salt and pepper and toss once or twice. Turn off heat.
3. Add the Dijon mustard mix to the cabbage mix in the pan and toss once or twice until wilted.
1. Place duck leg on a sizzle platter and roast in 350 degree F. oven until the skin is crispy.
2. Serve duck leg on plate on top of the cabbage mix and top with Balsamic glaze over the end of the duck. Garnish with two chives.
Recipe courtesy of Chef Stephen Ryan, Emerson Inn by the Sea, 2011.
A Massachusetts native, Chef Ryan started cooking professionally at age 14. He briefly attended Johnson and Wales in Providence, Rhode Island, but basically he learned how to cook in the "school