[Smashy the Hammer] [An Aspiring Luddite]
I carry no phone
An aspiring Luddite
In a wired world.
[Jeff Berry]
Jeff Berry is an early adopter of the Internet and the Web, a late adopter of Twitter, and declines to adopt Facebook. With the death of Google+, he's experimenting with federated platforms. He admins a medievalist Mastodon instance, and can found on the PlusPora diaspora pod. He hates cell-phones.

Duck Confit for Dinner
01 December 2010

[Duck Confit Served]

It's been quite a few years since I've made turkey for Thanksgiving. I don't have anything against turkey, but unless you're feeding a crowd or really like leftovers, it's overkill. Often I'll make goose (expect a goose article around Christmas), but this year I opted for duck.

Duck presents a great many options to the enterprising cook. It roasts well, can be cooked over sauerkraut, pan-frying can be lovely, smoking gives good results, and, of course, one can confit it. It lends itself well to confit, since it tends toward the fatty side anyway. Confit is also a nice option because the confit keeps well in the fridge or freezer and can be used in a variety of applications such as cassoulet. (But that's also another article.)

I like confit fresh out of the fat, warm and meltingly tender. You don't get a crisp skin that way, but I don't mind. Serve it with some sharp sauce or condiment, like Cranberry-Horseradish Relish to cut the richness of the duck.

Duck Confit
For this recipe you'll need:
Part 1: a nice light cure ...
Put the duck parts into a freezer bag with the salt. Crush the juniper berries and add them as well. Work everything around so the duck is well-coated, then seal, removing as much air as possible. Refrigerate overnight or a day or so. [Duck Confit Going In the Oven]

Part 2: a warm bath ...
Get your oven preheating to 190F. While it is, wash the duck and pat dry. Place the duck, skin side up, in a baking dish of some kind. A nice tight pack is fine. Cover, or nearly cover, the duck with auxiliary fat.

Cook the duck for at least five hours, longer will be fine. The duck should be resting on the bottom and the fat should be clear. If you're like me, serve some immediately. Put the rest into a container, cover completely with the cooking fat, and refrigerate or freeze. [Duck Confit Fresh Out of the Oven]

Auxiliary Fat
To confit the duck properly, it needs to be covered entirely with fat. You can start with a little duck showing because some fat will render out of the duck pieces themselves, but leave only a tiny bit poking out. You have many options for fat but a few stand out from the crowd: duck fat, goose fat and olive oil.

For duck or goose fat, the best option is to have already roasted a duck or goose and saved the grease. However, rendered fat can sometimes be purchased. Chicken fat, that is to say, schmaltz could also be used in a pinch, but there is another alternative - olive oil. The absolute highest quality olive oil isn't necessary for this purpose, although do get a good quality cooking oil. For the recipe in the pictures, I used a mixture of duck fat, goose grease, and topped it off with a cup or so of olive oil.

When you are done with the confit, save the fat! You can use it to make more confit, of course, but it also serves whenever you'd like a little extra flavor in any sort of frying. Goose grease is often recommended as a cooking oil for potatoes, but the confit grease works for eggs, for sautéing fowl or meat, toasting bread, or, indeed almost anytime you're frying something in grease. (Assuming you like the flavor of duck or goose, and if you don't, why did you make confit in the first place, one wonders?)

Cranberry-Horseradish Relish
With all the rich, fatty goodness of the duck, something with a little acid bite was needed. A friend at the office suggested this type of relish. Here is my version. Run the cranberries and sugar through a food processor until the berries are in small pieces. Add the horseradish and lemon juice and pulse a few more times. Refrigerate for a day, two is better.

This recipe gives a nice balance and isn't too hot. If you prefer more horseradish kick, add more horseradish. As is, it goes well with a great many things - leftover mashed potatoes or sweet-and-sour cabbage, to name just two.

© 2010 Jeff Berry
The Aspiring Luddite