Don’t panic—most of that is just waiting.
In June, when I was in Ireland, I stumbled on Fields Market’s prepared food section. I’ve already raved about Fields, and although in general I’m not a big fan of pre-made entrees, a package of Confit of Duck caught my eye. I will eat almost anything that is made from duck, but it’s hard to find in our area, and when you do, it’s usually frozen and/or tough. But at Fields, a package with two (non-frozen) duck thighs/legs was only 5 euros, so I figured, what the heck?
I bought it. And a couple of days later I went back and bought another package—it was that good. All I needed to do was to preheat the oven and slide the container in (after tossing the completely unnecessary plastic packet of orange sauce), then drain off the excess duck fat halfway through (yes, duck is fatty—deal with it). The duck was flavorful and tender. I loved it--all four times I ate it.
But three thousand miles from Fields, could I replicate it at home? I’d always heard that a confit involved long cooking and a lot of fat. Both true, but not really a problem (okay, don’t eat confit every day of the week if you’re worried about fat—save it for a treat). The recipe is simple. The only difficulty is coming up with a container of duck fat.
Which I had! A treasured container of the precious stuff, that I’d been saving for a special occasion. The occasion had arrived!
CONFIT OF DUCK
(this recipe is adapted from Ireland: The Taste & the Country, Mike Bunn, 2000 edition. But that one made enough for six people, using only duck legs, so I adapted it and modified some of the proportions of the ingredients)
2 leg/thigh portions of duck
1/2 cup duck fat (may substitute pork fat, but not bacon)
1 small onion, peeled and chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 bay leaf
6 black peppercorns
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
In a deep roasting tray, melt the fat. Add the vegetables, bay leaf and peppercorns.
Add the duck legs. Cover with a lid or aluminum foil.
Cook for 2 hours. Check occasionally to make sure the fat is not bubbling (i.e., the oven is not too hot).
Cool overnight, then place in the refrigerator for 2 days (covered). Note: the cooked duck will keep in the fat for up to 10 days.
To serve, remove the duck pieces from the fat. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the duck pieces skin side down in a roasting pan and cook in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the skin is crisp. Serve hot.
While you are savoring the flavorful duck, here are some Book Club Questions to consider:
A lot has been happening in the Orchard Mysteries lately. Meg and Seth got married in A Gala Event, and they’re taking a honeymoon in the latest book, Seeds of Deception. But any time major changes take place in our characters’ lives, we writers wonder how our readers will react.
--Cozies are often closely tied to their small town setting. Is it all right to take them out of town now and then? Or do readers miss the regular cast of familiar characters?
--Marriage is a life-changing event. Does having the long-standing protagonists in a series marry (or at least move in together) change the story significantly? For better or for worse?
--Since this is a mystery, there’s a body—but in this case it turns up in Meg’s parents’ back yard. Should Meg and new husband Seth get involved in trying to solve it, in a place that they barely know and where they have no connections? (Imagine poor Seth getting chummy with his new in-laws while trying to solve a murder.)
--Do you enjoy learning more about Meg’s past? Her parents have appeared more than once in earlier books, but the new book takes place in their territory (in New Jersey), and involves elements from their past that even Meg didn’t know about. What kind of balance do you like to see between getting to know the characters better and solving the crime?
--Are Meg and Seth workaholics? They seem to have forgotten to plan a honeymoon, and then plotted one on the spur of the moment. Is that emotionally believable? What does it tell you about their relationship?
Seeds of Deception will be released October 4th. Find it at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.