Duck confit, a Gascony (broadly, French) specialty, is a dish consists of duck leg. Although it’s a regional delicacy, the dish is commonly made throughout the France. A time-honored method of preparation is used to make this dish that calls for salt cured duck meat followed by poaching the meat piece within own fat. Salt-cured meat is believed to stay preserved for longer period. Confit , though tastes best when made at home, the commercially canned variety is also quite popular as it has shelf life of several years.
The classic recipe of duck confit suggests the preparation with duck leg, but several variations of confit propose the use of goose as well as pork. The best time to savor this dish is winters, but a well-prepared and cured duck stays till summer season.
To being with, a combination of herbs and spices including salt, pepper, thyme and garlic is used to rub the meat piece. Salt curing generally lasts for 36 hours either at room temperature or in refrigerator. Although, curing is an optional step for confit, it should be done necessarily if meat has to be preserved for months. Chefs also recommend adding the extra flavors at this stage itself, therefore some other ingredients such as oregano, brown sugar and coriander may also be included to intensify the flavor.
Rinsing the meat is the second stage to prepare duck confit. Seasonings and salt is rinsed through the meat in order to make it ready for cooking. A deep ovenproof vessel is required to submerge the meat within fat. Traditional duck confit recipe calls for meat’s own fat, but modern recipes make good use of olive oil as healthy and flavorful fat. Very low temperature (170 – 275 Fahrenheit/ 76 - 135 degrees Celsius) is needed to cook or poach the meat completely. The meat should be cooked until tender and more precisely for 7-10 hours.
Cooked meat generally stored in container or reusable plastic cans, but meat should be completely cooled down prior to storing. It is also very necessary that meat should be fully immersed in fat when stored. Fat should be at least 1-inch above the meat, in order to get the best preserved meat. Oil even imparts a rich flavor to the dish. Confit can be kept in refrigerator for several weeks or up to six months, if packed in a well-sealed container.
The preserved meat is lifted out from the fat, either grilled or fried in little fat until skin is browned and crispy. Be it a time for quick appetizer, an impromptu lunch or an elaborate dinner part; duck confit is always a good option. It can be served with plain boiled white beans or on top of croutons with spread of Dijon sauce. Olives is considered a best combination with duck, hence a perfect olive salad with red onion and arugula goes quite well with duck confit. For a hefty meal, a poached egg may also be included in the menu. Even some innovative crepe and ravioli fillings may include duck confit.
Culinary Use of Confit Fat
The fat used to submerge the duck meat to prepare the confit is not discarded, as it is well used to fry and several foods such as scrambled eggs, savory toasts and even to sauté vegetables (eg. Mushrooms, beans and carrots).
Some garlic and potatoes roasted in the confit oil also accompany the duck confit and the combined dish is known as pommes de terre à la sarladaise.
Apart from being served as a stand-alone dish, duck confit also forms an integral part of several variations of French stew, Cassoulet.