Culinary experimentation

In the sprint stage of a slow-food experiment: duck confit.

Duck confit is, at its most basic sense, duck wings and legs stewed very slowly and gently in duck fat. Originally a technique for preserving, the slow processing under a layer of grease prevents the meat from drying while cooking it to a lush tenderness.

After scanning through a range of recipes I settled on one involving 24-48 hours of salting with a selection of dry and fresh herbs. Garlic, black pepper, allspice, thyme, zested and thinly sliced lime, and of course grey sea salt were all added for the brine, and the duck legs (the store did not have any wings!) were all put in a bag in the refrigerator for about 36 hours.

After removing the legs from the bag, and scraping off most of the herbs, they were arranged in a glass pan as flat as possible, on top of a couple more sprigs of thyme (we have a bit of a bumper crop) and then melted duck grease poured over the whole. Unfortunately our meat slightly more than filled the pan, so one of them is not quite completely covered and I have been basting it every half hour.

I am baking the whole thing at 100° C/212° F, just barely warm enough to get steam bubbles, for 4-6 hours. Then I get to decide whether to eat it immediately, or put it in the refrigerator (under a layer of strained duck fat) where it can be stored up to 6 weeks. I have a fantasy of recreating a wonderful dish we used to get at a restaurant in Burnaby – a Frenchified version of shepherd’s pie using pulled duck confit in a gravy with a few veggies under a rich layer of potatoes mashed with an interesting cheese and then lightly toasted on top à la Duchesse potatoes.

Yes, definitely looking forward to nomming some of this very slow food.