I mentioned in my Makin’ Bacon post that I had also made some duck confit at the same time. My original plan was to have the duck legs to use in casoulet in the fall. Unfortunately, I couldn’t make it that long to try them out. Besides, what if they weren’t any good and I had waited all those months and ruined a perfectly good batch of casoulet. Really. It was for the best that I ate them super early.
Anyway, I thought that a confit salad with fresh summer fruit and artisanal cheese would be the perfect excuse for this. I followed the recipe from The Rivercottage Meat Book, which included how to cook them up after they come out of the jar. They were pretty salty, like their bacon recipe was, but I suspect if used directly in a casoulet, they would be perfect. In the salad, the fruit and cheese helped to offset the saltiness. They were divine!
Duck Confit via The River Cottage Meat Book
2-3 duck legs
2 T. rock salt
1 t. freshly ground pepper
2-3 springs of fresh thyme
2-3 bay leaves
6 garlic cloves, crushed
2 T. olive oil
1.5 lbs rendered duck fat
Rinse and pat dry 3 duck legs (drum and thigh). Preheat oven to 300° F.
Prepare the salt rub by mixing the salt, thyme, bay leaf and garlic rub (I saw a post where the guy put all of it into a spice grinder first. This may have been a better plan, since the bay literally shot all over the place when I tried to chop it up). Generously rub the mixture all over the duck legs, working it up under the skin as far as possible without fully removing the skin. Leave for 48 hours in a glass dish in the fridge, giving another salty massage after the first 24 hours. Take out and scrape off all the seasons and reserve.
Heat olive oil in a heavy pan over moderate heat (I used a dollop of duck fat instead) and brown the legs thoroughly, skin-side down and then all over. Put the legs into an ovenproof dish* which they fit as snuggly as possible, adding the seasoning scrapings and enough rendered fat to cover, or nearly cover, the meat. Cook in a low oven for nearly 2 hours, until the meat is falling off the bone. If the meat was not fully covered, turn at least once during cooking.
Once cooked and cooled enough to handle, place them into a large mason jar or plastic tub with a tight fitting lid, and pour over enough warm rendered duck fat to completely cover. Leave to set until hard and then seal the jar. This should last several months in a cool, dark place, but even longer in the fridge**.
When you are ready to eat them, remove the legs from the fat and scrape off and reserve as much of the fat as possible (the fat can be rendered and reused). Place them skin-side down into a very hot oven (450° F) for 5 minutes. Remove the pan and drain off the excess fat and return to the oven for an additional 10 minutes, or until hot and crisp.
*I used a large cast iron skillet for both the browning and roasting.
**I can’t say exactly how long these would stay good for, since I pretty much only gave them a month before digging into them. I also ate them before I remembered that I hadn’t gotten a photo of them first. I was hungry, what can I say!?
Summer Confit Salad (serves 4)
1 large cleaned and dried head of butter lettuce
1 peach per person
1/2 pound of cheese of your choice – I used an artisanal goat cheese
1 bulb of fennel, shaved
meat from 3 duck legs, confit style
Tear the lettuce up and divide among 4 plates. Wash and slice the peach on top of each bed of lettuce. Shave fennel onto the peaches. Crumble bits of the cheese on to the salad. I let the meat slightly cool once out of the oven and then shredded it. Lightly drizzle the whole thing with olive oil and then toss. Serve immediately.