Portland, Oregon: And so, on the final night of French Week menus, for our Shabbat meal, I prepared Duck Confit, which is duck poached in it's own fat.First you need whole duck legs (thigh and leg) and then you need duck fat. Because I am in Portland, these items are readily available. New Seasons Market carry Grimaud Farms duck and containers of duck fat in their freezer section. $10 for two legs; $7 for a pint of rendered duck fat. I needed one pint of fat for four legs, planning two legs for tonight and two legs for the freezer for another time.
Grimaud Farms are in Stockton, California and raise Muscovy Duck for all the fancy restaurants in San Francisco and Napa... and me. Actually, if you order duck at many restaurants in American, chances are it came from Grimaud Farms.
The process to prepare Duck Confit (cone-FEE) takes several days, but just a few minutes of time. It's no trouble. Anyone with an oven and $17 can make duck confit. I started on Monday.
STEP ONE: The legs need to be thawed, generously rubbed with Kosher salt and pepper, then covered and refrigerated for a day or two.
STEP TWO: The legs are then rinsed of the salt and pepper and patted dry... then placed in an oven-safe dish that can just hold the legs - a very tight fit is optimal. The duck fat needs to be softened/melted just enough that it can be poured. Herbs are added to the baking dish, nestled amid the duck legs. I used one bay leaf, 2 sliced garlic cloves and many sprigs of fresh thyme. Then the dish is covered (either with a lid or foil) and baked for four hours at 225 degrees. This is the "poached in its own fat" portion of the program.
STEP THREE: After the poaching bit, the dish needs to be cooled and then refrigerated (covered) for a day or two (or up to several weeks... don't take my word on this, but this is how meats were once preserved before refrigeration... I kept the legs refrigerated two days).
STEP FOUR: When ready to eat, carefully dig into the cold duck fat and remove the legs. Scrap off as much fat as possible. Heat a heavy skillet and place the duck onto the hot pan, skin side down, and sear the duck until crispy and the duck lifts easily from the pan. This should take ten minutes or so. Flip and sear a few minutes on the other side and serve.
STEP FIVE: Clean up your grease-spattered kitchen.
The duck fat can then be heated and strained for another use or frozen for the next time you make duck confit. Strain it either way. Duck fat is super wonderful on potatoes. Here is a photo of four duck legs/thighs ready for the four hour poaching process. Covered with melted fat, herbs and garlic. At 225°, the fat barely bubbles, with is exactly the desired mode. Four hours! We had a one-plate meal tonight - Duck Confit served on a bed of (traditional) lentils, with a little mixed greens and roasted yellow squash. It was plenty and it was perfect and it was delicious. Did I mention super crispy and the meat fell off the bone? And our house smelled wonderful?
Merci, French Week. It's been fun!
Until my next update, I remain, your Shabbat Shalom correspondent.
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