Sunday, December 7, 2008
I have been reading French Leave by John Burton Race. It is a book based on his experience of moving to Montferrand, France for a year with his family to learn about rural French cooking, and was also done as a TV show on the Food Network. Seeing as I love French food (what's not to love about a culture that worships food and never uses the low fat version of anything), reading it is making me salivate almost to the point of choking. The book is divided up by season, and then the second half has all the recipes for the food he has been writing about. Yay! I too can eat duck now in at least three different ways. This past Sunday I decided to give the Duck Confit a go. The recipe is very simple, the only hitch is that the cooking time is 2 hours, which would make it a no go for me on a week night. It definitely fit the bill though for a Sunday afternoon when I didn't want to leave the house.
This dish did take some planning, because I don't keep duck in my freezer, and none of the local grocery stores carry it regularly enough for me to look close by. Off I went on Saturday morning to T&T Asian grocery in West Edmonton Mall. I know that they almost always have duck legs, and indeed they did.
Duck Confit (for two):
2 duck leg and thigh quarters
1 clove of garlic, sliced
1 bay leaf
2 juniper berries
I never have juniper berries, but I do usually have gin, and since gin is flavored with juniper berries, a splash of it is a fine substitute. Saturday afternoon I rubbed the duck with all of the aromatics, and left it overnight to marinade. Burton Race indicates that even he will just marinate for a few hours if he doesn't think of it the night before, so do the best you can.
Two hours before eating time, rinse off all the rub by running the duck under cold water, then toss it in a baking pan or roaster for two hours. That is seriously the end of the instructions. I told you it is not as hard as it sounds.
I also made potatoes roasted in duck fat to accompany it, since I rarely have the duck fat to work with. I sliced up potatoes (about a centimeter thick), and then about 20 minutes before the duck was done, took out the roaster and ladelled some of the fat into a skillet.
The potatoes take about 8-10 minutes a side on medium heat to get nice and brown and crispy. If you do not like them quite so crispy, just keep an eye on them and turn them when they are brown enough for your liking. They should all be arranged in a single layer, and I rinsed them before putting them in the fat so that with the lid on, there would be some steam created.
You can serve the duck legs just roasted, but I shredded the meat off seeing as duck confit is frequently served this way, and I preserved the leftover meat by packing it in it's own fat.
Duck cooked in it's own fat served with potatoes cooked in duck fat may seem a bit on the unhealthy side, but as Burton Race states, this is all part of the French paradox of fatty foods, and a low incidence of heart disease. It is thought that the type of fat present in most French foods is better because it is natural saturated fat as opposed to hydrogenated and trans fats. I will leave that to you to decide, but when it comes to duck, there is no arguing that the fat is delicious! None the less, I do like serving the above with a side salad.