OK, today I finished up the duck confit, and also used up the last 2 duck breasts for dinner.
The duck pieces for confit need to dry brine for at least 1 and up to 2 days. I went with 1 day just due to time constraints. Melt your duck fat over very low heat. Brush the garlic and herbs off your duck parts, then rinse in cool water, and pat dry thoroughly.
Lay the duck thigh/leg pieces in a single layer in a deep casserole or oven proof dish that is just big enough for the duck. Some recipes say skin down, some say skin up. I went with skin up, but I don't know if it really matters.
Add enough duck fat to cover the duck pieces. If you don't have enough duck fat, you can supplement with olive oil. I used the duck fat I rendered yesterday, and supplemented it with some duck fat I purchased a year ago for this purpose, and which has been sitting in my freezer since then.
Preheat the oven to 280 deg F. Cook uncovered at 280 deg F until you see some gentle bubbling of the fat, then lower the heat down to 225 deg F or even down to 200 deg F. You basically want to maintain a very gentle simmer for about 3 hours or so. When you can easily insert a toothpick into the duck, and it has pulled away from the bone, it is done.
Use a slotted spoon to remove the duck parts from the fat, and place in a container that will hold the duck snugly and that you can cover in the refrigerator. In this picture you can see why I frenched the duck legs when prepping them. Frenching allows for the leg meat to contract up to the thigh, which leaves a nice compact ball of meat.
Filter the liquid duck fat, leaving behind any sediment or any juices which would have collected at the bottom of the casserole dish. If you plan to use your confit within a week, you don't need to worry too much about the juices; you even could just pull the duck confit out of the oven, let it cool, then refrigerate as is. However, if you want to improve the storage life of your confit, you want to eliminate the juices and just cover your duck meat with clean fat.
Remember, juice (i.e. water) = bacterial growth medium = reduced storage life.
Cover your duck with the clean filtered fat by an inch or so, cool, then cover and refrigerate. It should keep for 2-3 weeks or even longer if you did a good job of eliminating all juice. The flavor will improve as it ages in the refrigerator. I will let mine age in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks, and then will use it to make a couple of different recipes. Stay tuned!
For dinner tonight I seared the last 2 remaining duck breasts and served them with a port wine cherry sauce. The recipe I followed is from epicurious.com (Seared Duck Breast with Cherries and Port Sauce).
Start off by scoring the fat side of your duck breast down to the breast, but not into the breast meat. This is easier than it sounds. Season with salt and pepper.
Prep the sauce ingredients: 1/2 cup minced shallot, 16 dark cherries (pitted and halved), 1 cup duck stock, 1/4 cup tawny port, 2 Tbsp honey, 2 Tbsp butter.
Melt 1 Tbsp butter in a cast iron pan over medium high heat. Add the duck breast with the skin side down. Sear for 5 minutes.
Flip over, lower heat to medium, then cook for additional 4 - 8 minutes depending on the size of the breast. You are going for a rare-medium-rare. I went with 6 minutes as our duck breasts were pretty large. Pull the breasts from the pan, tent with foil, and let rest while you make the sauce.
Drain the pan of all but a couple Tbsp of pan drippings. Saute the minced shallot in the drippings for about 30 seconds.
Add the stock, cherries, port, and honey. Bring to boil and reduce for about 3 minutes or until slightly thickened. Stir in the butter, season with salt and pepper.
And here is tonight's plated shot. The duck breast was a perfect medium rare. The sauce was a little more liquidy than I had pictured, but the flavor was great. I served the sliced duck breast and cherry sauce with mashed buttercup squash and steamed cauliflower.
Whew!! A good weekend of cooking. Next up tomorrow is hanging the duck breast prosciutto. Thank you for reading and sticking with me!!
Have a great night!