One of my winter break projects this year was making homemade duck confit. Even though I love duck confit, I’d resisted making it because I thought it would be hard.
It was a snap. I used eight duck legs, three pounds of duck fat, and the recipe from Paula Wolfert’s Cooking of Southwest France, which you can find online. I cooked it and put it up (okay, put it in the fridge) two weeks ago, without a hitch, and tonight we cracked into it and had roasted crispy confit for dinner. “Can I get one with a duck bone?” asked Iris. She could. This confit was as good as any I’ve had anywhere, albeit a little light on the salt, which will be easy to fix next time.
A few notes on making confit. First, the process takes three days, but the first day (dry-rubbing the legs) and the third day (layering the top of the container with lard) take ten minutes or less. The actual cooking done on the second day is extremely simple: put the legs in the fat, bring them up to temperature, cook until tender, put away. That took about three hours.
The main thing to know is that the first batch is the expensive one, because you have to buy the duck fat, unless you cook a lot of ducks (hi, Liza!) and render the fat. Once you have the duck fat, you can reuse it for additional batches of confit for several months, at which point you’re looking at a marginal cost of a couple bucks per leg. Per serving, that’s cheaper than fresh chicken breasts, and (I measured) thirteen times better.
There are four legs remaining in the fridge, and I’m going to let them sit tight for another few weeks and see if the flavor changes.
Oh, while Iris was eating her duck leg, she pointed to a piece of cartilage and said, “I think that’s the duck’s gill.” Perhaps we haven’t adequately explained the whole waterfowl concept.