I’ve been steeped in French Laundry recipes so much lately I haven’t been doing much personal recipe development. Consequently I decided to devote my attention to one of my favorite things- confit de canard, known in these parts as duck confit. The irony of duck confit is that the cooking process is meant as a way to preserve the duck for later use, however the second I confit (preserve) a Pekin leg I am all over it like a lush on Lillet (that’s me too, this summer anyway).
I have been fascinated with the confit method for some time; a fascination which was exacerbated by my love affair with the Sous Vide Supreme. Since you need a low, ambient temperature to slowly cook the duck in order to render its own fat (I also augment it with a generous slather of already-rendered fat), sous vide is the perfect cooking method. Another benefit of sous vide is that you can use less additional fat (I’ve tried not using any and it works, though the depth of flavor is just not there) in the cooking process and turn out exceptional results. This is my fifth attempt at defining just the right cure time as well as cook time and temp on duck confit, and I am pleased to confidently publish the results.
The zucchini tagliatelle and beet puree are suggested accompaniments that both sprung from my summer garden bounty. The beet puree adds a perfect hint of sweetness to counterbalance the salty duck and the consistency makes it more than addictive. I love that this preparation of zucchini elevates the classic garden staple to a sophisticated component of a decadent dish.
This makes 2 duck legs and serves 2. Increase as necessary.
note: you will want to start this recipe the night before as the duck requires curing in the salt overnight.
- 1/3 c Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt
- 3 fresh bay Leaves
- 5- 4” thyme sprigs
- 1.4 c fresh parsley leaves
- ½ tsp SMOKED GARLIC POWDER
- 6 black peppercorns
- Two tablespoons duck fat
Finely grind all cure ingredients (except for duck fat) in a spice grinder. Place two towel-dried duck legs in a food-safe bag and coat with the salt blend. Seal the bag using a vacuum sealer. Place in refrigerator to cure for 12 hours. Set the water temperature of your sous vide to 185°. Cut open the bag and gently rinse the duck legs and inside of bag. Pat dry. Put the duck legs back in the bag along with two tablespoons duck fat and reseal. Immerse in the water bath for seven hours. Remove from bath and let rest 15 minutes. Cut open the bag and gently pour off the duck fat into a container and place the duck legs on a paper towel-lined plate. Heat a film of canola oil in a medium skillet. Cook the duck legs skin-side down for 3-4 minutes, or until they slide freely in the pan and develop a dark-golden crust.
- 1 large zucchini or 2 small
- Kosher salt
- 1 tbsp rendered duck fat from the duck confit
Using a mandolin, make long, thin strips of zucchini to resemble pasta ribbons. Spread them evenly on a clean kitchen towel and sprinkle with salt. Allow the salt to draw the moisture from the zucchini for a few minutes, then press the ribbons with another towel to remove the moisture. You can repeat this process several times for a firmer final texture (to resemble al dente pasta). Pepper the ribbons, then sauté in duck fat for a few minutes until just cooked. Do not overcook the zucchini or it will turn mushy. I like to use a round cutter form to plate the zucchini, that way it stays in a nice pile on the plate, but do as you wish. A squeeze of lemon goes nicely with this dish.
- 2 medium beets (I mixed a red beet and a Chioggia beet to achieve the pink color)
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ¼ c water
- 1 tbsp rendered duck fat or butter
Chop the beets into uniform ½” cubes. Very gently boil them in the cream and water until they are soft- about half an hour. Strain the cream into a bowl and reserve. Pass the beets through a food mill, then a fine mesh strainer (use the back end of a ladle to get them through the strainer). This will give a perfectly smooth, airy texture. Place the beet puree in a small saucepan, and just before service reheat along with a tablespoon of the reserved cream and the duck fat/butter.