How to make duck confit
Over at the blog Kate Hill: A French Kitchen Adventure, one of my favorites in the food world, Hill has just posted Part 2 of her tutorial on making duck confit.
She’s been living on the Julia Hoyt, a 75-year-old Dutch canal boat moored along the Canal de Garonne near Agen in southwestern France, since 1987. She also teaches cooking workshops in an 18th century stone farmhouse with a kitchen garden just in front of her boat’s mooring. If you tend to frequent international newsstands, look for the latest issue of Maisons Sud Ouest, which features a 12-page spread on the boat and farmhouse. You can also see the photos in a slide show at www.relaisdecamont.com.
The American expatriate has also written a couple of books, including “A Culinary Journey in Gascony: Recipes and Stories From My French Canal Boat.”
In this tutorial, she starts from the very beginning, shopping at the market in Agen. You’ll follow along step by step as she salts and preserves the duck the way cooks have been doing it in this part of France for hundreds of years.
Everything is used: Nothing is wasted.
“The first step after butchering the whole duck into pieces is to lightly salt the meat and let it sit overnight. 'Overnight' here means no more than 12 hours. Salt before you go to bed and be ready to cook in the morning, or salt at the crack of dawn and cook that evening. Salting for 24 hours (or longer!) is overkill. Keep in mind the size of your ducks (mine will weigh in at six to seven kilos, that's 13 to 15 pounds each!), the length of time you will be cooking and preserving the meat (After cooking for one to 1¼ hours, I typically jar and sterilize my cooked confit in winter and leave it in the pantry until summer and fall, using up most of it before the next batch is seasonally made) and to what end (I will serve confit legs and magrets or breasts solo with salad and fried potatoes in the summer, add to autumn cassoulets, and make soups and garbures from the little pieces of necks and wings.). More salt and longer salting time was necessary when confit was put up in earthenware jars and stored unrefrigerated in 'caves' or cellars. If you are not using traditional large fatted ducks (take a look at the size of the legs in my Size 8 garden glove hand!), then scale down salt and cooking time.”
I’m getting very hungry.
— S. Irene Virbila
Photo: Ducks being prepared for confit by Kate Hill.