Yes, it’s true: I am all about the Quack Attack. For my money, there are few animals tastier than the duck. There is something decadently succulent about the dark, flavorful meat that is found throughout this bird, and oh, the fat… the fat can just take everything about your cooking to the next level.
So it’s not surprising that some enterprising cook came up with the idea of cooking a duck in its own fat. I mean, as a society we have acknowledged that combining two products from the same animal can elevate them both to new heights (see: cheeseburger), so to the people who scoff at the idea of confit, well, I just scoff back. Or something. Or I would if I weren’t so totally absorbed in the wonder of the method. (Sorry, I’m too busy appreciating all that is awesome and wonderful in this world to be appropriately snarky back at you. That’s it: that’s my new motto. But I digress.)
Confit is a French word, which seems to imply that confit is difficult, snooty, impossible to eat without my nose held at a dizzying angle in the air, and altogether too refined for a knuckle-dragger like me to fully appreciate. Or perhaps it’s too baffling and you find yourself asking what one does with it. Fortunately for all of us, confit is exceedingly simple: make a curing paste in a food processor from a couple of pantry staples, throw it in the fridge overnight, rinse it, submerge in fat, and cook for a couple of hours.
As for what to do with the finished product? It’s a doozy of an answer: anything and everything. So far, I’ve used it in cassoulet (yet another scary-sounding French dish that is actually peasant food), risotto, and just plain eating. But one of the best parts is that it keeps in the fridge for a month (confit literally means “preserved”), so though I confit-ed up a whole duck and only needed the breasts in my risotto, the legs will wait around for me to be inspired once again. What shall I use it for? An exceedingly amazing pot-pie? A savory and decadent (cheese-less) pizza? Tossed with roasted Brussels sprouts? (Woah.) Who knows? A whole lotta inspiration can happen in a month. All I know is that those two beautifully golden legs will be challenging me to up my creativity-ante, and there’s no doubt that they’ll do that if I can resist the temptation to pull them out in the middle of the night and schmear them all over my face as I savor them by the fridge.
Adapted from the Cook’s Illustrated online
Makes one whole duck or six legs