Duck Leg Confit

Serves 6

Confit was created by the French as a way to preserve meat before fridges came along.  They would marinate the legs in course rock salt before poaching in the fat in order to draw out the moisture. The longer you marinate the legs in the salt the longer you would be able to store it. I omit this stage as I find the meat really salty but it does mean you need to remove the juices from the used fat before storing. The slow cooking tenderizes the cuts of meat that have more connective tissue ie the legs.

Of course this method can be applied to game birds too. The smaller the leg the less time you will need to marinate and subsequently poach in the oil.

800g Duck or goose fat or any oil
4 whole legs
1/2 tsp sea salt flakes
1 garlic bulb
2 bay leaves
4 Sprigs of fresh thyme
1 tbsp black peppercorns, lightly crushed

  1. Preheat an oven to 120˙C.
  2. Put the goose fat into a saucepan and put it over a low heat to melt. 
  3. Remove any shot, blood and feathers from the legs.
  4. Sprinkle the legs with the sea salt flakes on both sides. 
  5. Cut the top off the garlic bulb to expose the flesh inside the skin of each clove. 
  6. Lightly crush the peppercorns using a pestle and mortar 
  7. Put the legs, bay leaves, peppercorns and the garlic to the pan of melted fat.
  8. Heat the oil to just before simmering.
  9. Then transfer to the oven.
  10. Cook at a bare simmer for about 2 ½ hours or until the meat is almost falling away from the bone.
  11. The legs can be chilled in the fat and stored so long as they are completely submerged for weeks.
  12. To cook, place the legs, skin side up into a roasting tray.
  13. Turn up the heat to 200˙C.
  14. Cook until the skin is crispy – about 15 minutes.
  15. Serve with the garlic confit.

Taste great with:
Cannellini beans and wilted chard
Haricot beans with cavolo nero
Celeriac and carrot slaw
Braised red cabbage and mashed potatoes or celeriac
Stir fried cabbage and caramlised pears
Braised fennel or leeks and game sauce 

Alternatives for the marinade:
4 crushed juniper berries and 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary
A pinch of whole cumin seeds and ¼ tsp whole coriander seeds – toasted
Two pieces of peeled orange zest and a splash of brandy

Poaching times:
Duck Legs 2.5 hours poaching
Pheasant legs: 1.5-2 hours
Partridge legs: 1.5 hours

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