Showing posts with label duck confit. Show all posts
Showing posts with label duck confit. Show all posts

Friday, September 23, 2016

Honeymoon Duck Confit

This could be a dish to serve to a book club if you make it ahead and then shred the duck and use it in a salad or pasta. But it’s also something Meg and Seth might eat on their honeymoon in Seeds of Deception, when they visit some rather nice places (before the dead body complicates things).

This recipe takes three days.

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!


(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)

Serves 2


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


Day 1:

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).

Day 2:

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.

Day 3:

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?

Since Meg and Seth have managed to survive a visit to the inlaws complete with a corpse, I'm giving away copies of A Gala Event (when the wedding takes place) and Seeds of Deception (with its rather unusual honeymoon). Leave a comment by Sunday night and I'll pick one winner for the pair.

Seeds of Deception will be released October 4th. Find it at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Duck Confit

101 cat beds in the house, and Sunny prefers a cardboard box.

If you're a fan of cooking shows, by now you have heard the term duck confit (sounds like duck confee or duck cofee). I was always impressed when fancy chefs said they had made duck confit, and I imagined some torturously difficult dish. Turns out it's an old method of cooking that preserves the meat. The duck was salted rather heavily, then cooked low and slow to release the fat. The meat was stored beneath the rendered fat for up to one month. Pretty handy in the old days. The recipes today vary a little bit from the old method. The good news is that you can make a version of this delicious dish at home very easily!

You know me, I had to make a change. Most recipes call for 6-8 duck legs. Yeah, well, I'm imagining that housewives in France 100 years ago probably didn't slaughter 3-4 ducks just so they could make the confit. And I'm thinking hunters didn't bring home 8-legged ducks. Where I live, ducks are sold frozen, and I wasn't about to buy 3 or 4 just for the legs, so I used the whole duck -- as I imagine French housewives once did. If you happen to find a duck already cut into pieces or your duck won't fit into your Dutch oven, I would think this would work every bit as well with a cut-up duck.

Since we're not actually going to use this method to conserve the duck, we don't have to over salt it or let it sit in salt for days before it's cooked. But, we do need a Dutch oven. One of the very lovely things about this dish is that it requires so little attention. It cooks for 4 1/2 to 5 hours and only requires attention twice after the initial preparation. This is the perfect dish for writers -- pop it in the oven and write for two hours!

I will say that a roast duck makes a prettier presentation, but it's hard to beat the flavor of the duck confit. Most recipes for duck confit have some kind of sauce. Aha, it dawns on me that this could be the reason for the sauces. I should have cut a portion, topped it with the sauce, and photographed it. Frankly, we were such piggies that we dug right in! We forgot all about the sauce and the camera. Sauce is not necessary. This sauce is kind of a no brainer, and tasted fabulous, even without duck.

I bought the duck at my farmer's market from a local farmer. It weighed 2.75 pounds, so was on the small side. It's usually my rule of thumb that one duck feeds two people, three if they are light eaters and there are lots of great side dishes. Ducks don't have a lot of meat compared to chickens, but oh my -- is the meat good! The long slow cooking process produces meat so tender that the duck will nearly fall apart.

Keep the rendered fat from the duck to use in other recipes. I cooked potatoes, then, when the duck was removed from the Dutch oven, I sliced the potatoes and fried them in a few tablespoons of the duck fat. The fat is also good with vegetables like green beans. I think some people even scramble eggs in it for the delicious flavor.

Whole Duck Confit

1 duck
4 cloves of garlic or 1 1/2 elephant garlic cloves
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
ground pepper
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon dried thyme

Preheat the oven to 250.

Place the duck into a Dutch oven. Cut the garlic into thin slices and rub all over the duck, allowing the excess bits to fall into the bottom of the Dutch oven. Rub the Kosher salt on the duck. Pepper to taste. Prick the skin of the duck all over to release the fat as it cooks.

Turn the duck breast side down and nestle into the Dutch oven. Sprinkle the thyme around the duck and add 1/2 cup of water. Place the lid on the Dutch oven and cook for 2 hours.

After 2 hours, flip the duck over, breast side up. Cook another 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

Meanwhile start sauce and side dishes.

Remove the Dutch oven from the oven

 and turn the heat up to 400. Place the duck, breast side up, on a baking sheet or roasting pan and roast at 400 for 30 - 35 minutes or until the skin has crisped up.

Save the fat in the bottom of the Dutch oven. It will keep in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks.


After refrigerating, the fat will separate and rise to the top.

Blueberry Cognac Reduction

8 ounces of blueberries (frozen are fine)
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons Cognac
1/2 cup chicken broth
salt to taste (I salted toward the end because the amount of salt in broth differs widely.)

Bring all ingredients to a boil and lower heat to a simmer. Simmer (without a cover!) about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. It should reduce in volume by about 1/2.