I recently read a most excellent book entitled French Women Don’t Get Fat. Its perfectly genius ideas, many of which I have successfully incorporated into my lifestyle resulting in a weight loss of around 40 pounds (though I don’t know exactly because French women do not weigh themselves!) make me yearn to visit Paris again. Since that isn’t really on the horizon for a multitude of boring reasons (work, finances, yada yada), I’ve made do with delving into French cuisine at home.
Much of French cuisine is ubiquitous enough that even a girl growing up in Dallas, Texas in the ‘80’s is familiar, but one thing I never even knew about, let alone tasted until adulthood, is duck confit.
Duck confit. It’s the most delicious, superlative, food-gasmic thing, ever. What is it, exactly? It’s duck legs cooked slowly in their own fat. The result is perfectly crispy, crackly skin encasing fall-off-the-bone dark duck meat. The actual cooking is a bit of a production and requires one to buy copious amounts of duck fat, an item that can be difficult to locate for some, and then sometimes insultingly expensive when finally found.
Luckily for us all, David Lebovitz has gifted us a way to make duck confit in our own kitchens in a quarter of the time and without having to hunt down and purchase that pesky duck fat.* In his version, the duck sits overnight in the refrigerator in a combination of salt, spices and gin, then cooks in a low and slow oven, for only 2 ½ hours, in the fat it renders itself. The result? You can’t tell the difference. You can’t! David is really onto something here. I’m thoroughly impressed by his method, and so grateful to now have this trick in my arsenal. Enjoy, everyone!
*Disclaimer: I love duck fat. I adore it! So please don’t think I’m maligning it here. It’s just that I’m also spoiled in that I can find it in my regular grocery store. I don’t assume everyone can find it so easily, and calling for duck fat can make a recipe prohibitive for some. If duck fat is easy for you to find, consider using it for potatoes, Chex mix, or cookies!
One Year Ago: Bacon Cinnamon Rolls with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
4 whole duck legs (thigh and leg attached)
1 tbs kosher salt
1 tbs gin
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
¼ tsp ground allspice
2 garlic cloves, peeled and halved lengthwise
2 bay leaves
Prick the duck skin all over with the tines of a fork, making sure to pierce all the way through the skin.
Mix the salt, gin, nutmeg, and allspice together in a small bowl. Find a baking dish that will fit the duck legs very snugly, with no room around them. For me, it was my standard 8×8” baker. Rub the duck legs all over with the salt mixture. Place the garlic halves and bay leaves on the bottom of the baking dish and lay the duck legs, flesh side down, on top of them. Make sure the garlic cloves are completely buried underneath. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours and up to overnight.
To cook the duck, wipe the duck gently with a paper towel to remove excess salt, then put the duck back in the dish, skin side up. Place the baking dish in a cold oven. Turn the oven on to 300 F. Bake the duck legs for 2 ½ hours, taking them out twice during baking and basting them with any duck fat pooling around them.
To finish the duck, remove from the oven, then increase the oven temperature to 375 F and bake the duck for 15 to 20 minutes, until the skin is deeply browned and very crispy.