How to Master Duck Confit
Don't let the fanciness fool you.
From hummus to granola, there’s a whole world of foods that, turns out, aren’t best left to the professionals. Today, we’re here to add one more to the list: duck confit. While its name may sound intimidating or you’ve only seen it on the menu at restaurants with high-profile chefs, there’s nothing that stands between you and adding it to your cooking repertoire like a little background information and some hoodzpah.
First, let’s talk about the etymology of the word confit. Derived from the French word “confire,” confit is simply a method of preservation, something we Southerners are well acquainted with from pickling to canning. Back in the days of pre-refrigeration, meat that was confit could be kept for weeks. Fruit can also become confit with the use of simple syrup. In this case, proteins, like duck, are cooked low and slow under a layer of oil or fat more for their crazy tender and flavorful results, much like barbecue.
Follow these tips, and you’ll have your next dinner party guests wondering if you have caterers hidden in your kitchen.
The cure is crucial: Make sure to let your duck legs cure for at least 24 hours in whatever salt mixture you are using. This is how the meat will absorb flavor since the cooking process is more about the texture.
Don’t fear the fat: Yes, the large amounts of duck fat in confit recipes can sound-off mental alarms, but be not afraid. The duck legs will not absorb the fat, rather it acts as a barrier to bacterial growth and helps encourage even cooking by regulating the temperature surrounding the meat.
Use a deep dish: Complete submersion is key in confit. You want to use a baking dish with high sides that also allow your duck legs to be completely covered in the duck fat.
Sear it or shelve it: If you’re planning on serving the confit right after, give the duck legs a quick sear in a cast iron skillet, skin side down to add a crisp factor. If you’re planning on serving them at a diner party later on, you can keep the confit legs in the fridge up to a month until you’re ready to serve.