Rev. Sydney Smith said that his idea of heaven was eating foie gras to the sound of trumpets. Being a strict trinitarian I’d settle for goose foie gras, belly pork and duck confit, but could well do without the trumpets.
Duck confit tends to be something most people don’t make at home. Though it’s pretty simple to make, it takes a long time and requires vast amounts of duck fat. In my household any fat that comes off a roasting duck is destined for frying potatoes. There’s never enough left for confit. I was therefore intrigued by a recipe by Michael Ruhlman (an American cookery writer, though perhaps better known for being a good friend of Anthony Bourdain, he’s also the inventor of the chicken fried confit belly pork caesar salad , a recipe that I’m still not sure whether serious or a joke) that confit’d duck in olive oil. That seemed more feasible, but olive oil here is very expensive. I therefore decided to experiment using cheap vegetable oil (soya bean oil to be precise). The results were phenomenal.
Here’s my version of the recipe:
- 4 duck legs
- 6 black peppercorns, lightly crushed
- 6 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
- 4 bay leaves
- vegetable oil as required, about 1 litre
- Wash and dry the duck legs.
- Liberally salt the duck legs on both sides.
- Press the peppercorns into the duck legs all over.
- Press the slivers of garlic onto the duck skin and flesh.
- Sandwich two bay leaves between pairs of duck thighs, with the duck skin on the outside.
- Put in a ziplock bag, expel the air and seal. Leave in the fridge for 24 hours.
- Rinse the duck legs to remove all the seasoning and then pat them dry.
- Place the duck legs in an ovenproof bowl which fits them snugly.
- Pour over enough vegetable oil to completely cover the legs. The legs might float. This isn’t a problem. They’ll sink once they start to cook.
- Put in an 80ºC oven, uncovered, for 10 hours. After this time the legs should be fall-apart tender.
- The legs can now be kept in the fridge, either in the oil, or without the oil in a tightly sealed container until you’re ready to eat them.
- Remove the legs from the fridge an hour or so before you’re ready to cook them to allow them to come to room temperature.
- Preheat an oven to 220ºC.
- Take the legs from the oil and put on a baking tray. Cook for 15-20 minutes until the skin crisps and the meat is heated through.