The bag I removed from the freezer yesterday turned out to be duck and not the chicken legs I was expecting so I decided to make confit with them.
Confit from the Latin word, conficiere, is a method used in France to preserve food before fridges came along… and it usually takes two days including preparation, marinating and slow cooking but I didn’t have time for that so I came up with a quick and easy version.
My duck legs were genuine French, procured on a sortie into SW France last November and when you make a confit, what you’re doing is poaching the duck legs in hot fat, not frying them. This is why the fat must remain at a relatively low temperature when cooking.
First up, wash and pat dry the legs, pricking the skin with a needle or very sharp point of a knife and this will allow the fat to escape when cooking. Then give them a good coating of salt and set aside for an hour in order to draw out the moisture.
Rinse and scrape off the salt and pat dry.
Place the legs snugly, skin side up, inside an oven proof dish together with a few garlic cloves, bay leaves and whole black peppercorns. If you happen to have some duck fat in your fridge then smear some under and over the legs, if not then don’t worry as the fat under the skin will render and produce its own.
Your kitchen is going to smell like heaven.
Turn your oven to 140°C (fan) and place the duck inside, do not pre-heat the oven as you want the legs to cook s-l-o-w-l-y. Now read a book on your roof terrace, watch the football or amuse yourself for 90 minutes. After this time check the duck which should be swimming in its own fat and showing signs that the meat is falling away from the bone and that the skin has crisped up. Continue cooking for up to another 30-45 minutes (depending on the size of your duck legs). You’ll know when they’re ready as the meat shrinks away from the leg bone.
When done, allow to cool before deciding whether to eat them later or store them in the fridge for several weeks as long as they are completely submerged in the fat.
When you are ready to eat then remove the legs from the solidified fat, scraping off the excess and place skin side down in a frying pan to heat through and crisp up the skin.
Note: Save the accumulated fat which will produce fabulous roast potatoes.