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Confit de canard

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Confit de canard

Confit de canard is a tasty French dish of duck – although goose and pork can also be used – and is considered one of the finest French dishes. The meat is specially prepared using a centuries-old preserve and slow-cooking process (confit), where the duck meat is marinated in salt, garlic and thyme for up to 36 hours and then slow-cooked in its own fat at low temperatures (an alternative to deep-frying). It is typically served with confit roasted potatoes and garlic on the side. Today this French dish is served all over France, although it is considered a specialty of the Gascony region.

I pondered this recipe for six months, mulling over in my head whether it was even allowable to make a cheat's version of such a classic French dish ... especially one that is famed for its fat! I quizzed a lot of people about it and invited them to taste the recipe. The overwhelming majority considered this a legitimate substitute for the real thing.

Serves 6
473 calories per serving

6 duck legs, skin on and bone in, weighing 250g each
a little salt, for the skin

For the marinade:
6 garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced
plenty of freshly ground black pepper
½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
3 tbsp fresh thyme leaves

Preheat the oven to 220ºC /425°F/gas mark 7 and put a full kettle on to boil.

While the kettle is heating up, bash up all the marinade ingredients in a mortar and pestle.

Place the duck legs skin side up on a wire rack over the sink and pour the boiling water over them. You will see the fat visibly tighten and shrink. Next, pat the skin dry and sprinkle a little salt over it. This will help to make it crispy.

Spread the marinade mixture on the flesh side (ie the underside) of each of the duck legs and sit them, skin side up, in an ovenproof baking dish.

Put in the top of the oven for 10 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 100C / 200F / gas mark ¼ and move the dish down to a rack in the bottom of the oven.

Cook the duck for 3 hours in total. Serve hot from the oven.

Cooking tip
If the skin is not crispy enough, I like to give the duck legs a 3-minute blast under the grill at the end. What's magical about this recipe is the combination of crunchy skin and melt-in-your-mouth flesh.

Skinny secret
I got the idea for this method from the Chinese recipe for Peking duck: pouring boiling water on the duck legs means that the skin tightens and crisps under the blast of heat and forms a hard shell. The fat therefore has to run through the meat before coming out of the other side. This is a marvellous way of maintaining moisture throughout the meat without having to poach the legs in goose fat, as in "real" duck confit recipes ...


french cuisine 7.jpg

Edited by lindagray

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