This year for Thanksgiving I wanted duck instead of plain, old turkey. I thought about just roasting it whole but decided to confit the legs and pan sear the breasts. Confit is basically meat that is cooked and preserved in it’s own fat. The way I understand it is after it is cooked it should “age” in the fat for quite a long time and I just don’t have time for all that. I picked up a 6-ish lb Pekin duckling from the market.
I took the leg quarters and wings with the tips removed and dried them with a paper towel. Then they were seasoned liberally with salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder and fresh thyme. I put them in a zipper bag and into the fridge to cure for 24 hours.
Not wanting to waste anything here, I put the carcass, wing tips and neck into a pan with a half of an onion and covered in hot water. I simmered the stock for about 3-4 hours and then strained and chilled it.
I brushed off the excess salt and seasonings and placed the wings and leg quarters tightly in a Pyrex bowl and topped with the extra skin and fat. I have to admit I cheated a little here. I did not have any “extra” duck fat to cover the meat so I used olive oil. I know the fat will render out of what is in the bowl and I just needed a little something extra though. You could use oil, lard or even bacon fat I suppose.
Now you don’t want to cook this at too high of a temperature. I did a little over 200 degrees for about 5-6 hours until the meat was super tender making sure that only a few little bubbles were appearing during cooking, not a rolling boil. Once done, I placed it into the refrigerator to cool fully over night. Now I decided to pick all of the meat and roll it up to cut into disc-type shapes to crisp up.
Well, it did not have time enough to set up before it was time to cook so when I went to slice it it basically fell apart. That is fine, I can work with this. I smashed it all into a very hot pan to crisp it up.
Next up…the breasts. I scored the skin side and lightly seasoned with just kosher salt and fresh black pepper. They went skin side down into a pan over a medium heat to slowly render the fat and crisp up the skin.
So with my duck, duck, gravy we also had some sausage stuffing from a local butch shop, caramel yams, homemade cranberries and the best pecan pie!
Thanksgiving was a success! The confit was ridiculously tender, rich and delicious with just the right amount of crispy, the breast almost steak-like in texture and able to cut with a fork and the gravy…well…who doesn’t like gravy. 🙂