yield: 24 legs
12 duck legs
1 c. kosher salt
1 tsp. rosemary
1 tsp thyme
2 whole heads garlic – broken, peeled
enough duck fat to cover the legs
Combine the salt and herbs in a bowl. Dip the duck legs, meat side down, into the salt mixture. Place one leg meat side up with another leg on top of it, skin side up, in a pan with at least one-inch sides. Continue pairing remaining legs in this manner to fill the pan. Wrap with plastic and refrigerate for 48 hours to cure.
Preheat oven to 250o.
Remove the duck legs from the refrigerator and rinse very well, rubbing the meat side of the legs under running water to remove any excess salt. (It is essential to rinse the meat very thoroughly. Otherwise, the confit will be too salty.)
In a round heavy bottom pan large enough to hold the legs snuggly, lay them, overlapping slightly, with the bones toward the center. Place the garlic in the middle of the braiser and add enough melted duck fat to cover all of the contents of the braiser completely. Cover with foil and cook for about three hours, until the meat falls nicely from the bones.
Remove the legs from the fat and place them in a storage container. Strain the fat through a fine mesh strainer, then pour it back over the legs. For extended storage, the fat must cover the legs completely. Stored correctly, the confit will keep for about six months.
The term “confit” comes from the French verb “confire,” which means to preserve. This age-old preservation technique allows meat to be safely stored without refrigeration. The salt curing process extracts from the meat the juices and water that make it perishable. Salt denatures the proteins in the meat and pulls out the water that would otherwise be available as a breeding ground for microorganisms. The protein is then slowly cooked in a bath of fat. Confit must be stored completely submerged in fat so that the meat does not come into contact with the air.
Keys to Success:
Confit, Curing, Simmer
garlic – broken, peeled
rendered duck fat
cure for 48 hours
arrange in deep rondeau or similar pot
cover with fat, cover with foil
bake at very low simmer approx. 3 hours (similar to braisin)
pour over legs in storage container