Confit de Canard with Pommes Sarladaise Recipe
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- 3 whole ducks (yes, you need the whole ducks to get enough fat to confit the legs, and pick the fattiest looking ones)
- sea salt, and ground black pepper
- 2 heads of garlic, one separated into individual cloves and bruised with the back of a knife. (No need to peel)
- 1 shallot, quartered
- 2 oranges
- mirepoix of onion, leek and carrot
- 1 star anise
- 1 cinnamon quill
- black peppercorns
- 600g red-skinned potatoes
How to make Confit de Canard with Pommes Sarladaise
Duck confit is a fairly popular dish, and while it's rather time-consuming to prepare (it takes about 3-4 days from start to finish), it's really nice to have some confit in your fridge, that you can just take out, reheat, and shred into a salad or a pie or something. Super yummy. The best part about making duck confit for me - apart from eating it, that is - is that I get to eat potatoes fried in duck fat! They're my absolutely favouritest way to eat potatoes, and since you can't always find bottled rendered duck or goose fat, it's quite a treat to have it this way. Anyway, duck fat can be strained and reused, so it should go quite a long way. Just make sure you seal it properly before storing, and always smell and check it before using, 'cos I've got a friend whose duck fat went rancid after a stint in his freezer. :(
This recipe's one of the more time-consuming ways to make confit, but I think it's worth it. The initial 24-hour cure of the duck legs in salt really adds to the flavour, and curing it for longer means you can use less salt, so you don't get an overly salty confit. Try it! (Serves 6.)
- Remove the legs and breasts from the ducks, and set aside. (Breasts can be frozen for later use.) Remove all the skin and fat from the ducks and place into a heavy-based saucepan. Cut up the carcasses and place in an oven (at about 180°C) in a roasting tray together with all the wings etc for about 40 minutes.
- Rub about 4-5 tbsp of salt on the duck legs, putting more salt on the skin side. Rub in about 2 tbsp of pepper as well. Place the legs in a single, snug layer - skin side up - in an ovenproof dish/pan. (The dish should be deep enough so that there's at least 2 inches of space above the ducks.) Scatter the peel of one orange, and all the garlic on top of the duck. Seal tightly with clingfilm and keep in the fridge for 24 hours.
- Cut the fat up into small pieces, and place the saucepan over medium heat to render the fat. If there is a lot of fat, you can strain the oil out periodically. Keep heating it until all the fat and skin looks crispy, and you can't render anymore fat out. Strain through a chinois, pressing with the back of a wooden spoon to squeeze out every last bit of fat. Cover the container and keep in the fridge until ready to use. (You should be able to get about 3 cups of fat.)
- Remove the roasting tray from the oven, and place the bones and meat into a stock pot. Pour all the fat out, and strain it twice through a chinois, then using a muslin cloth to remove the impurities. Add this to the oil rendered from the skin and fat.
- Place about 1-2 cups of water into the roasting tray, and heat it over the stove, scraping all the bits from the bottom. Pour it all into the stock pot over the bones. Add the mirepoix in, and top up the water so it covers all the bones. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat to the lowest and simmer for 3-4 hours, skimming all the impurities off. Remove the bones, strain, then keep the stock in the refrigerator or freezer. (You can use it as the base of a soup, or reduce and make a sauce.)
- After 24 hours in the fridge, the duck legs will look wet, as the water has been drawn out by the salt. Discard the orange peel and garlic cloves. Pat the duck legs dry with kitchen paper, and place back into the dish, in a snug single layer, skin-side up again.
- Heat the rendered fat over low heat in a small saucepan until it is completely melted (it would have solidified in the fridge).
- Remove the peel of the second orange with a peeler, and place the peel onto a medium sheet of muslin. Place the cinnamon quill, star anise, shallot and some black peppercorns (about 1 tbsp should suffice) onto the muslin, then gather up the edges and tie securely with kitchen twine. Tie the second head of garlic into another muslin-bag.
- Place the two muslin bags into the dish, and pour over the melted duck fat. Place in a preheated oven at 125°C, and cook for 3-5 hours. The meat should come off the bone very easily by the time it's done.
- Remove the duck legs carefully from the dish, and place into another container. Strain the oil, and pour enough in to just submerge the duck legs. Let it cool, then cover tightly and refrigerate. It will keep in the fridge for about 6 weeks. The rest of the duck fat can be strained and kept separately if desired.
- To serve, remove the duck legs from the fat, brush off the oil, and heat up about 1/4 cup of the duck fat in a large heavy-based skillet. (You want it to almost deep fry.) Place the ducks skin side down in the hot fat, and fry until the skin is crispy. Turn over and cook for one additional minute on the other side.
- Place the reheated ducks on a tray, and keep these in an oven preheated to 120°C.
- Top up the fat if necessary, then fry some parboiled sliced potatoes in the duck fat until golden and crispy on both sides. Serve with the duck legs and a glaze made with balsamic vinegar, the jus from the duck carcasses, and the juice from one or two oranges, reduced until syruppy.
- Sprinkle over some sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, and serve. :)
It'll be worth all the trouble, I promise.