Duck or goose confit (con-fee) is one of the most luxurious of foods in French cuisine.
What is Duck Confit?
Gently cured duck legs bathed in their own fat and slowly cooked to falling-off-the-bone perfection. Then the skin is crisped in a pan or oven, giving you the sinful combination of silky meat and crackling skin.
It’ll roll your eyes back it's so good.
Real confit takes more than a day to make. But I have a work-around that takes just a little more than two hours and is nearly as good. And it’s easy – I mean super easy.
Get yourself duck legs. Goose legs work fine, but they are hard to find not already attached to a goose; you can buy duck legs separate from the duck.
You will want at least one per person, but two per person is better. You may have to have your butcher order them. Specialty grocers may have them fresh or frozen.
The History of Duck Confit
It's generally accepted that duck confit originated in Gascony, France, centuries ago. Curing slaughtered ducks in salt and braising them in their own rendered fat helped preserve them throughout the winter. While we may think of the rich, fatty deliciousness of duck confit as a once-in-a-while luxury, back then people relied on "confit de canard" as necessary sustenance during the cold months.
What Does Confit Mean?
Confit comes from the French verb "confire," which means to preserve. The term is frequently associated with preserving meats, such as duck, in its own fat, but fruit and other sugary foods cooked down slowly with added sugar to preserve them also qualify as confit. You can also confit vegetables by cooking them slowly covered by oil.
How to Serve Duck Confit
Duck confit makes a savory and satisfying main course, but you can use it as an ingredient in other dishes such as pasta with slow roasted duck confit. As a main dish, it works great with sides roasted vegetables, mashed potatoes, or even a simple green salad.
What to Do With Duck Fat
You'll have duck fat left over when you're done making duck confit, and that duck fat is liquid gold. Try it in these dishes, replacing part or all of the oil with duck fat.
- Sweet and Sour Onions
- French Fries
- Home Fries
- Sautéd vegetables
- Pie crusts for savory dishes (like chicken pot pie)
More Classic French Recipes to Try!
- French Onion Soup
- Coq au Vin
- Easy Blender Hollandaise Sauce
- Slow-Cooker Beef Bourguignon
Easy Duck Confit
Do not preheat the oven for this recipe.
Duck legs (at least 1 per person)
Dry the duck:
Pat the duck legs dry with paper towels.
Prick the skin of the duck all over:
Find a needle or a very pointy knife and prick the skin of the duck all over. Focus on the skin that covers fat. Do your best to avoid piercing the meat itself by pricking the skin at an angle over the drumstick and the center of the thigh.
You are doing this to give the fat that lies under the skin a place to seep out. If you don’t do this, it will be far more difficult to get crispy skin.
Salt the duck legs and let rest:
Salt your duck legs well, more than you think you ought to, actually. Let them rest at room temperature for at least 20 minutes and up to 1 hour. Don’t worry, they’ll be fine.
You can even salt the duck and refrigerate it, uncovered, up to 8 hours ahead of time.
Put the duck legs in a casserole dish:
Put the duck legs in a small casserole, skin side up. How small? You want it just big enough to hold the legs. Put a thin sheen of oil or melted duck fat on the bottom of the casserole, then place the duck legs in close together but not overlapping.
Slowly heat the duck in the oven:
Put the casserole in the oven and heat it to 300°F (150°C); if you have a digital oven, you could even go down to 285°F (140°C). Do not preheat the oven. You want to cook the duck as gently as possible.
Walk away and watch football, go shopping, read a book or something. How long? Every duck has a different level of fat, so I can’t tell you exactly. But it will be at least 90 minutes, and 2 hours is better. After 90 minutes, check the duck: It should be partly submerged in melted fat and the skin should be getting crispy.
Brown the skin:
When the skin is starting to look crispy, turn up the heat to 375°F (190°C). Check after 15 minutes. You’re looking for a light golden brown. If you missed some spots with the needle and there are places where the skin won’t crisp that’s okay — better that than burnt skin elsewhere.
Let cool and strain the fat:
Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 to 15 minutes before eating. Save the accumulated fat for cooking vegetables, other meats or for keeping your skin shiny. I strain the fat through cheesecloth, but you really only need to do this if you are saving the fat for several weeks or months; strained, it will keep for 6 months tightly covered in the fridge. Well wrapped, the duck meat itself will last up to 2 weeks in the fridge.
What to do with your lovely duck legs? Why eat them. You can just gnaw on the legs and let the luscious fat dribble down your chin, or pick off the skin and eat it—it is hard to re-crisp it later—and then strip the meat from the bones and use it in a salad, with beans or rice, or in with pasta.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 26g||33%|
|Saturated Fat 7g||34%|
|Total Carbohydrate 0g||0%|
|Dietary Fiber 0g||0%|
|Total Sugars 0g|
|Vitamin C 3mg||17%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|