This post is part of a larger post titled Foodbuzz 24x24: Culinary Tour Around the World - Sous Vide Style. In that post, I created a 3-course dinner showcasing the sous vide technique on a variety of cuisines. This duck confit was one component in the duck confit salad, the French part of the meal.
Traditional duck confit is a pain to make because you need so much duck fat. Essentially, you are cooking the duck in its own fat. In order to really achieve this, you need enough fat so that duck meat can be submerged all the way. I watched one instructional video where the chef literally had over a quart of fat just for half a duck and a duck leg. It was crazy.
A great advantage of using sous vide to make duck confit is that you can drastically reduce the amount of duck fat you need. You can still cover the entire piece of meat much less fat inside a sous vide bag.
This recipe (from Thomas Keller) makes a flavorful and tender duck leg. It works great as an add-on to the tart frisee salad that typically accompanies this dish.
Visual "Movie Frames" of Duck Salting
Duck legs are first salted overnight in a 1.3 kg bed of kosher salt mixed with garlic and herbs.
You are basically curing the meat in the refrigerator for 6 hours. The beauty of this method is that, once the meat is cured, it will last a VERY LONG TIME in the refrigerator. Salt is a natural preservative!
After six hours, the legs will lose some water content, become a bit more firm, and, of course, be pretty salty. That's why you have to be sure to rinse the legs really well. Otherwise, it will be WAY too salty.
Place the duck legs in a bag with duck fat and an herb sachet full of garlic, thyme, and peppercorns.
Seal it up and cook for 8 hours.
Some say to cook longer, but I was running out of time, so I took it out after 8 hours. See how the duck leg is cooking in the fat?
Take out the legs, dry them, and then pan sear for service. You can also shred up the meat and serve it in the salad without bones, like a traditional duck confit salad (see second picture).
4 duck legs (1.86kg)
1.33 kg kosher salt
3 bay leaves
6 thyme leaves
6 garlic cloves
400g rendered Duck Fat
Mix salt, bay leaves, thyme leaves, and garlic cloves together. Cover duck legs completely in salt mixture and salt for 6 hours. Remove from salt and rinse very well. Dry the duck legs. Pan sear, skin side down, until the skin is crispy and golden brown. Serve whole or shredded up in a frisee salad with duck fat fried potatoes and a fried hen egg.
Or go the humble route and just shred the duck meat up and mix it throughout - still tastes delicious!
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