Duck Confit, A Festive Season Fave.
Although time consuming to make, this is a duck like no other. The recipe is adapted from the delicious Paula Wolfert’s Cooking of South-West France. If you want to use it within a week of making, reduce the salt by one third. A duck maryland is the leg and thigh portion of the duck.
  1. Mix together the salt, eschallots, parsley, peppercorns, bayleaf, garlic cloves and thyme. Toss each duck piece in the mixture and place in a glass or ceramic dish. Tip any remaining mixture over the top and cover with plastic wrap. Put in the fridge for 24 hours.
  2. Remove from the fridge and quickly rinse off each duck piece under cold water. Pat dry with paper towels.
  3. Put the duck fat into a large ceramic or other wide saucepan (I use a Le Creuset, 4 litres). Heat the fat until it is JUST liquid (but not too hot) and slip in the duck pieces and the halved head of garlic. Heat this very slowly until it reaches 90C (190F) (I use my candy thermometer). This can take around 1 hour. Once it is at that temperature, cook for another hour or so and then test the thickest part for tenderness. You want it to be really soft,almost fork tender. If done, allow to cool for about one hour.
  4. With a ladle, remove all the fat to a clean saucepan, leaving behind any meat juices. Bring this to boil and simmer for 5 minutes until any spluttering stops and it is clear and golden.
  5. If you are planning to eat the confit within a week, allow the fat to cool a little and simply put the duck legs in a container and cover with the fat. Store in the fridge until needed.
  6. if you would like to keep it for longer (and impart a better flavour), then you will need to follow this careful sterilization process. I use a large plastic Tupperware/Decor tub and first put it in the dishwasher to clean thoroughly. Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon of salt in the bottom and pour in 5 cm (2 inches) fat. Place in the fridge and allow to set until solid. Remove from the fridge and carefully place the duck pieces on top, avoiding the sides. Pour the remaining fat on top until the pieces are covered by at least 2 cm (1 inch) of fat. Make sure there are no air pockets. Allow to cool and then refrigerate. Once this is hard, pour another layer of fat (2 cm/1 inch) of fat on the top. Cover with baking paper, seal with the lid and refrigerate until needed.
  7. Remove from the fridge about 2 hours before you are ready to eat it. When the fat has softened, using gloved hands, remove each piece of duck and scrape off the fat without tearing the skin. Place each piece on an oven rack. When ready to eat, preheat the oven to 200 C (400F). Place the rack over a baking tray in the oven and cook the duck until really golden and sizzling, around 10 minutes.
  8. Serve with slow cooked red cabbage and potatoes cooked in duck fat.