Thursday, March 6, 2008

Duck a la Phineas

Ducklings in their "natural" habitat

A few weeks ago I was annoyed when NY Times food writer, Florence Fabricant, finished an article by writing, "Do not even think of making duck confit from scratch. Buy it prepared, from a fancy food shop or online."

Duck confit is incredibly easy for the home chef to make! It does take a bit of advance planning, but there is absolutely nothing difficult in the preparation. Last night, I silently leaped for joy when I opened the fridge and discovered a new batch that Phineas had just made. Here is his recipe as he texted it to me:

Trim duck leg of all excess fat. Chop excess fat and render slowly over low heat until you get crispy skin and a vat full of fat.

Season duck legs liberally with kosher salt and pepper-place in fridge overnight (you also can add herbs like bay leaf, thyme etc). Next day or days rinse thoroughly.

Heat up oil until warm (duck fat will "melt" from a semi-solid form to a liquid). Pour over legs to cover (if not enough add some oil of your choice). Optional: toss in a couple cloves of garlic in skin, bay leaf, sprig of thyme.

Set on low, walk away for at least say 2 hrs. Check with fork. When fork tender (think pot roast, potatoes) turn off heat and remove from pan. Layer in storage container and cover with fat.
Store in fridge. done

Ducklings a la Phineas*

A few things he didn't say: After rendering in the first step you should save the fat for cooking the legs. Also, the crispy bits of skin left over from rendering can be used as garnish or topping for a variety of dishes or salads; think of them as a very upscale pork rinds.

Since confit is actually a method of preservation, you can make a batch and store them for several weeks. The fat forms an air-tight barrier that keeps them from spoiling. When you want to use the confit legs, unearth them from storage, scraping off the fat. Crisp them in a pan until the skin is crackling, the meat is warm and any remaining fat has been rendered out. Use those luscious legs as a main protein course, in salad, in a noodle soup, or tossed in pasta - like Florence Fabricant's recipe. A little goes a long way.

* All photos taken by Phineas. No rubber duckies were hurt in the making of this blog.

1 comment:

Elmer Fudd, hunter-at-large said...

remember to "Save the Fat!" Put in airtight container and store in fridge or freezer. Use wwhenver necessary for added ducky/meaty flavor. For example: duck fried potatoes, duck fried eggs, think anything that bacon fat would help.

Daffy would be proud!