20 February 2012

A pie of duck confit and Sarladaise potatoes

Confit de canard is duck that is slow-cooked in duck fat. Legs, thighs, and wings are the pieces used for confit; the breast is cooked separately, either grilled or pan roasted, and often served rare. The legs, thighs, and wings need long, slow cooking, until the meat is fairly falling off the bones.

There are several ways to serve and eat confit de canard. The leg & thigh sections can be taken out of the duck fat and roasted on a rack in a hot oven. The fat drips away and the duck becomes brown and crispy. Slow-cooked duck legs done that way are often served with fried or sauteed potatoes.

Duck-meat hash in a pie with sauteed potato slices

Another way to serve the duck pieces is as part of a cassoulet of white beans, with sausages, cooked fresh pork, and other meats. You can put the duck pieces into the bean dish whole, or you can remove the duck skin and take the meat off the bones before putting just the chunks of meat into the cassoulet. (Make cracklings with the duck skin.)

Duck confit meat pulled off the leg and thigh bones for hash

Nowadays, a third popular method of using confit de canard is to make and kind of parmentier — a meat and potato pie — with it. Again, you take the skin off the duck pieces and pull the meat off the bones. Chop the meat coarsely. Saute some diced onions and mushrooms (or truffles) in duck fat with herbs, and then add in the chopped duck meat to make a hash. Put the hash in a baking dish, cover it with a layer of mashed potatoes, and cook it in the oven.

Duck-meat hash with chopped onions and mushrooms

That was what I started to do last week with the three leg & thigh pieces of confit de canard I had left from December. (After cooking, the confit will keep for months in congealed duck fat in the refrigerator or a cold cellar.) I liked the idea of a meat and potato pie, but I wasn't sure I wanted to combine potatoes containing butter and milk (or cream) with the duck and duck fat. Duck isn't usually cooked in butter — at least not in the French southwest, where duck is a mainstay of the diet.

Spread the hash over the bottom of a baking dish

Instead, I decided to make sauteed potatoes, cooking them too in duck fat. Actually, the recipe for potatoes cooked in duck fat is a standard one down in the Dordogne and the town of Sarlat. They're called pommes de terre sarladaises. Slices of potato are first browned in the duck fat. Then they're left to cook with some garlic or even truffles on low heat in a covered pan. The potatoes are served soft and tender rather than crispy and crunchy.

Arrange the potatoes on an oven pan and brush them
with melted duck fat

So why not a combination of hachis parmentier (a kind of shepherd's pie) and confit de canard, made with pommes sarladaises? Rather than saute the sliced potatoes in a pan on the stove, I decided to cook them in the oven by arranging them on a baking sheet lined with a silicone baking pad (parchment paper would work too) and brushing them with melted duck fat.

Arrange a layer of golden brown potato slices over the hash

I made a hash of the duck meat while the potatoes cooked and browned in the oven. When the potatoes were done, I spread the hash in the bottom of a baking dish and arranged the potatoes over the top. You of course could eat it just like that, with crispy potatoes.

Parmentier de confit de canard haché
et pommes sarladaises

Or you can put the whole pan in a slow oven, cover it, and let it cook for another 20 to 30 minutes. The potatoes will soften up and continue cooking, taking on a texture that is closer to the texture of mashed potatoes than sauteed potatoes. And then you can cut wedges out of the pie and serve them the way you'd serve, well, a pie.

It's all about the texture you want. And you could use any chopped meat — beef, pork, lamb, chicken, turkey, rabbit... — for the hash and do the same thing. Instead of duck fat, brush the potatoes with olive or vegetable oil, melted butter, or pork fat — whatever goes with the meat you're using.

By the way, pommes sarladaises are also really good served with a grilled duck breast filet cooked rare.


  1. Confit de canard and fried potatoes are both wonderous things. Yum yum yum.

  2. Going along with the hash theme, I could see this dish with a fried egg on top. Yum, breakfast American style.

  3. A couple of Canadians, living in the Dordogne, blogged about their cottage pie using duck meat. We agreed that it should be called 'canadian pie' in tribute to their nationality and the ubiquitous canard.

  4. Oh, wow! This is now on the top of my "Ken" recipes in my favorites file. I enjoy Sarlat enormously but I would never have thought about using the recipe this way. But I have to wait until our Aussie weather cools down to try it.

  5. oh my, that's the best idea for a shepherds pie ever

  6. Clever idea and nice looking also. Bet it was good.

  7. Oh my heavens. HEAVENS! That looks scrumptious. I visited Sarlat a number of years ago, and my memory of it is the color of those potatoes-- all of the buildings in la vieille ville seem to be of that "mellow honey- colored stone"

  8. I have eaten those potatoes in Sarlat and boy, oh, boy are they GOOD!!

  9. Thanks for all the comments, all of you. We finished the leftovers of the duck and potatoes yesterday — still good, they were.

  10. If any of your readers just want to open a tin - when they're back in the UK they can get it from my website Confit de Canard UK (www.confitdecanard.co.uk).
    I know it's not "making it" but it's the best gourmmet meal from a tin in the world and you get the fat for the potatoes.
    Your hash looks fantastic by the way. I'm having some of that next time I open a tin...


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