Hello long lost friends and readers!
I mentioned in this post that one of my goals for July was to prepare a duck dish. Well, July came and went, but I have duck for you nonetheless!
My first encounter with duck was during my freshman year of college. There is apparently no better way to impress your date than by ordering a dish you’ve never eaten before. Well the date was just fine, but the duck? It was love at first bite. Many duck dishes later, I discovered that my most favorite way to eat duck is duck confit! Did you know this just means that it is cooked in its own fat? Oh yes, this is not a diet dish, but oh baby, it is good.
Keeping in mind that I was having my cousin and his wife over for dinner later in August, I wanted to practice duck confit before committing to it. It makes me way too nervous to serve something I’ve never made before to guests! I found frozen duck legs at Reid’s and they were perfect for this dish! The fine folks at Reid’s even thawed them out for me before I picked them up.
Traditional duck confit can take days to cook. I’m not above trying that technique some day, but for now, the quick and simple method will have to do!
Recipe: (Slightly adapted from Melissa Clark’s Really Easy Duck Confit)
Ingredients: (Serves 4)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 bay leaf, crumbled
- 5 moulard duck legs rinsed and patted dry but not trimmed
In a small bowl, combine salt, pepper, thyme and crumbled bay leaf pieces. I actually increased everything in the spice mixture and think it was the right move. Sprinkle duck generously with mixture. Place duck legs in a pan in one layer. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 hours.
Note: Moulard duck legs can vary in size — if yours are closer to 1 lb. each, instead of 1/2 lb., add an extra 6-12 hours to the curing time if possible, and increase the spice mix proportionally by weight.
Put your duck legs down for a long winter’s nap (aka 24 hours in the fridge)
First thing’s first, preheat your oven to 325. Now comes the fun part! Place duck legs, fat side down, in a large ovenproof skillet (cast iron or Le Creuset works great), with legs fitting snugly in a single layer. Heat duck legs over medium heat until fat starts to render. When there is about 1/4 inch of rendered fat in pan, about 20 minutes, flip duck legs, cover pan with foil, and place it in oven. If you have used two pans, transfer duck and fat to a roasting pan, cover with foil and place in oven.
This duck will make your house smell like heaven and make you salivate. It’s like a RenFest turkey leg on steroids. You have to have it.
I served my duck confit with a parsnip puree and cherry compote!
Approx 6 large parsnips, peeled
• 2 Tbsp butter
• 1 small onion finely diced
• 1 clove garlic crushed
• 2 cups chicken stock
• salt & pepper to taste
1. Cut the parsnips into quarters lengthwise, removing the woody core, as it makes the puree stringy. Roughly chop the parsnip into chunks and set aside.
2. Heat butter in a large saucepan until bubbling, add the onion and garlic and sauté until onion is softened but not browned. Add the parsnip chunks and sauté for a further 5 minutes. Add the stock and bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer 15 minutes, remove the lid and simmer for a further 15 – 20 minutes or until most of the stock has evaporated.
3. Blend the parsnip with the remaining stock from the pot until smooth. If you would like the puree a little thinner adjust with a little extra stock or cream. Season to taste and serve hot.
Friday nights always call for wine (and dance parties)
This meal was excellent. One of, if not the best meals I have ever prepared. I felt so fancy, but it was embarrassingly simple to cook! For company, I would probably serve one duck leg per person, but we each devoured two legs. Which means we saved one for breakfast.
Duck confit eggs benedict, anyone? Don’t mind if I do!
How do you feel about duck? Do you also remember your “firsts” with certain foods?
Don’t be intimidated by this delicious bird! I can’t believe how simple it was to prepare. The next time I see duck legs, I will be snatching them up!