Classic French recipe: confit de canard

18th March, 2016
Classic French recipe: confit de canard Confit de canard is a classic French duck dish enjoyed year round all over France, and originates from the south-western region of Gascony.

The dish has an interesting history and was first concocted to help sustain the local people during the winter months. At the end of the summer season, the birds would be slaughtered before being salted, cooked and stored in fat to keep them good to eat throughout the winter – the word confit in fact comes from the French for ‘to preserve’.

The method begins by salting the meat, removing the excess liquid stored within before roasting it in duck or goose fat until incredibly tender. Once cold, the meat can be stored in the set fat for up to six months, or refrigerated overnight before being reheated.

Confit de canard can be found on menus all over France as well as in almost every supermarket, though there’s nothing better than making it from scratch at home, where you can add your own flavours during the salting and cooking process. Once cooked, you should ensure that all of the meat is covered by the hot fat before chilling, and then scrape away the fat before roasting or pan-frying the duck to make the skin lovely and crispy. The leftover fat is also perfect for making some wonderful roast potatoes.

Here’s how to make your very own confit de canard, perfect for impressing your loved ones on your luxury family holidays in France!

Ingredients

  • 4 whole duck legs
  • 650g potatoes, peeled and chopped into cubes
  • 550g duck or goose fat
  • 8 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme, bashed
  • 4 juniper berries, bashed lightly
  • 3 tbsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper

Method

Wash and dry the duck legs, before rubbing the sea salt into them. Add half of the shallots, garlic cloves, juniper berries, thyme sprigs and pepper into the base of a ceramic dish, before adding the duck and scattering the remaining half over the top. Cover with cling film before allowing to chill in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

Once fully chilled, remove the salt from the duck legs with a brush and place them in a high-sided baking dish. Keep back the garlic cloves and thyme as they will be used later on.

Preheat the oven to 110°C or 225°F, melt the duck fat in a saucepan until it turns to liquid and submerge the duck legs in the liquid fat. Cover the dish with foil before roasting in the oven for 3 hours or until the flesh goes tender, before removing from the oven and chilling until required.

For the next step, heat the oven to 200°C or 400°F, and parboil the potatoes in boiling, salted water for around 10 minutes, before draining well. Add around 4 tablespoons of the duck fat to a hot frying pan, before also adding the potatoes, garlic, thyme and a little salt. Cook over a medium heat until the potatoes turn golden – around 20 minutes. While the potatoes are cooking in the duck fat, remove the duck legs from the rest of the fat, with just a little still covering the meat. Place in a roasting tin and then roast for 20 minutes until heated through completely. Once both the duck and the potatoes are cooked, serve together with some winter or salad vegetables.

Image: McPig, available under Creative Commons