19 November 2008

My duck is cooked

Shouldn't that be "goose"? Well, no, I bought duck. But goose would be good too.

The duck pieces as they came out of the brining solution

It's so simple. You take the duck out of the brine (even if you just salt it and don't add any water, it's likely to be brine by the time you take it out). I left the duck to marinate for slightly more than 48 hours. See this topic for details about the marinade/brine.

And as they looked after three hours of cooking in duck fat

When you take the duck leg-thigh sections out of the brine, rinse them in cold water to remove any excess salt. And get rid of the marinade and all the aromatics. Then put the duck pieces into a big wide cookpot and pour enough duck fat over them to cover them completely.

You can add some melted lard or chicken fat if you don't have enough duck fat. Here in France, you can buy tubs of duck fat at the supermarket. Put the pot on to cook on low heat for about 3 hours. It should just barely bubble.

Here are the duck pieces packed for storing. The fat hasn't
congealed yet.
It turns a nice white color as it cools.

To store the duck pieces, remove them from the pot they cooked in and put them into a clean dish with a cover. Then carefully ladle or pour as much fat over them as it takes to cover them completely. Now they can be kept for months in a cold pantry or in the refrigerator.

In fact, many say the duck improves as it ages and "cures" in its own fat.

Duck gizzards sell for about $3.00/lb. They need long slow cooking
to make them tender. Then serve on salad or with cooked vegatables.
The gizzard is a tough muscle but has a mild flavor and nice texture.

How do you eat confit? You put the dish into a warm oven to melt the fat. You take out as many pieces as you want to serve. Heat them up in a pot of beans or greens. Or sauté them a little in a skillet to give them some color. Or put them on a rack in a baking pan and brown them in the oven. A lot of the fat drips away and the final product is pretty lean.

Here's a jar of duck fat that I have left over.
It spent the night in the fridge and had time to harden.

Another idea is to make a kind of shepherd's pie with the duck — un hachis parmentier au canard confit. Pull the meat off the bones, shredding it. Sauté some chopped onion, add in the duck meat, and put it all in a dish with a layer of mashed pototoes over all. Brown it in the oven.

The remaining pieces of duck just get left in the fat and put away for later. When the fat re-congeals, they are out of contact with the air and will keep for a good while with no change in flavor.

You can buy duck hearts either fresh or brined (saumurés)
for a lot less than gizzards. They also need long slow cooking.

Use the fat to flavor vegetables, or sauté potatoes, or to make your next batch of confit. Strain the fat, pour it hot into jars, put on the lids, and let it cool. It will keep indefinitely in a cold place.

The cooking liquid that sinks to be bottom is duck broth and is a good addition to soups or gravies, or as a flavoring for vegetables. It also will keep indefinitely as long as it is protected from contact with the air by a layer of congealed fat.

And finally, a choice morsel, the aiguillette. That's the tenderloin
that lies under the breast of the duck. It's tender and lean, and
can be grilled on skewers or sauteed and simmered in a cream sauce.

By the way, I wrote about making confit in this topic from December 2005, right after I started this blog. Yes, it's official and I admit it, I am repeating myself. Je radote, as we say in French.


  1. Hi Ken,

    Since I'm still on Paris time, I woke up at 3AM ET and have now caught up on your blog. Loved the Nine Eggs report! :-) And my husband had the same problem with his car awhile ago. We just had it removed and left it off.

    Because of the AF strike, it took me 33 hours to get from Paris, left on Nov 17, to North Carolina via Chicago rather than Atlanta, including an overnight in Charlotte, but my 11 days in Paris were wonderful as always and my luggage arrived home when I did. Can't complain!

    I am not a cook, but reading your posts always makes me want to cook. Thanks!


  2. Good morning Ken
    Un gros merci for the recipe. Will try it in the coming weeks.

  3. This looks and sounds delicious. I tried to find duck fat locally--what was I thinking? I emailed Wegmans, an upscale grocery chain with a store not too far away (2 hours)--they don't stock it. I found a place in DC (3 hours away) where it can be ordered a few weeks in advance since they have to stockpile it. And in France you can just walk into a grocery store and buy it!

  4. I really enjoyed this post, Ken. I used olive oil for the confit I made (using an Emeril Lagasse recipe). I did find tiny 4-oz containers of duck fat in the frozen food section at Whole Foods at a price so outlandish I don't even remember it.

    I've already snitched a bit of the duck-flavored olive oil from my confit container to fry potatoes. Yum.

  5. Chris, I was thinking about that and wondering why you couldn't make confit with any vegetable oil. Maybe olive oil would impart a nice taste, or you could use canola or soybean oil. Do you store the confit in the oil or did you not make enough to have to worry about storing it? Actually, you could always freeze pieces of confit.

  6. It is stored in the oil, in the refrigerator, right now. I made six legs and we had three for one meal. I plan on using the last three for a parmentier style dish this weekend, but I'll save the oil and use it again for the next batch, probably in a few weeks (once the turkey is out of the way).

    I've been reading a lot of Thanksgiving recipes for preparing turkey legs as confit. It seems to be all the rage among food writers this year. I'm cooking Thanksgiving dinnerfor a crowd of traditionalists who wouldn't go for it, but I may try that sometime later this winter.


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