čtvrtek 12. listopadu 2009

Duck confit

Surprisingly, the technique of slow cooking in a big amount of fat gives you pure duck meat with a minimal fat content! All of the fat melts and forms a thick layer of duck “lard” that you can reuse later to make even more fantastic things.
Duck fat is the most healthy animal fat! It’s content of unsaturated fatty acids is very close to olive oil. No wonder it’s so popular in France!
I often cook this dish when I know that we will have a couple of busy weeks ahead and I won’t have any time to indulge in any serious cooking. Just 10 minutes on a pan and a gourmet dinner is ready.

You need duck legs, garlic, salt, pepper and herbs.

Cut off as much fat from the duck legs as possible. Make cross like cuts into every leg and rub in some salt. Leave for 12 hours. Salt is a natural conservative and, if you want your confit to last for a while the meat must get through a proper salting process. If you are planning to consume the dish within 4/5 days then you can drop 10-9 hours, but still leave the duck to absorb the salt for at least 2-3 hours.
Melt the fat in a pan on low heat. It will take you about 40-50 minutes.
Put the legs into a big but shallow cooking dish. The dish should really be shallow because you want the fat to cover the duck legs. If you use a narrow and tall pan or skillet you will end up with lots of excessive space unfilled by fat.
Place the legs into the bowl along with 2-3 unpeeled garlic cloves and a few stems of marjoram, thyme or any other herbs you like. Pour the fat over them and cover with a lid or alfoil. Don’t worry if some parts of the duck are sticking out of the fat, the duck has some more fat underneath the skin that will melt and cover the meat properly. Set your oven onto 150C and leave the duck alone for at least 5 hours or more.
Take the cooking dish out of the oven, let it cool and put into the fridge. If some of the meat is still uncovered by fat then you will have to find another container for the duck. Don’t be afraid to squeeze the duck into a smaller container, it's much more flexible when cooked.

When ready to eat, just take out the legs and roast them in a pan until hot and crispy.
The side dish is potatoes sautéed in duck fat. Only 3 ingredients, yet so incredibly delicious! Slice the potatoes into relatively thin slices, melt a couple of spoonfuls of duck fat from your confit in a heavy pan and roast the potatoes until soft and crispy, add salt to taste.

The perfect meal for a cold autumn night!

* When I cook duck in a different way, I never throw away the fat I cut off. I freeze it and it often comes very handy. If you don't want to make your own confit you can buy ready made canned confit. I'm pretty sure I saw it in The Seafood store (both locations) and in the big wine store in Nový Smíchov mall.

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