First off, let me just say that I ADORE confit duck. I mean, what’s not to love- crispy, salty, fall apart flesh which is far more affordable than the tired dinner party staples of lamb and beef! Done deal in my book.
If you are having a cold sweat flash back to that time you tried making a french dish for a dinner party, only to spend half the evening standing by the stove, desperately searing steaks while shouting small talk to your guests over the whirr of the extractor fan, fat flying everywhere and your perfectly planned outfit now smelling like Steak Au Poivre, don’t let yourself be daunted! Duck confit is incredibly simple to prepare and will be the hero of your next dinner party.
Confit is simply a fancy way to describe something that has been cooked in a bath of fat. Being surrounded by liquid fat means the meat will retain all of its moisture, making even the toughest cuts turn into melt in your mouth creations. All the prep for this dish can be done in advance and quickly finished of in 10-15 minutes while the guests snack on the canapés.
CHEF TIP: The fat you choose to use for your confit will become tastier with each use. Simply strain out any bits and freeze the fat until you need it again.
5ml orange zest
small pinch of cinnamon
1 star anise
1 juniper berry (optional but reccomended)
5ml ground black pepper
4 Duck legs
2L of duck fat (or a mix of duck fat and a neutral oil like canola)
3 medium sweet potatoes
1 T maple syrup
1L canola oil for frying
Combine all the ingredients for the cure. Massage this into the duck legs and let them marinade in the fridge for at least 12 hours (up to 24 hours) in a container . This is ideally done the night before.
The next day, heat the oven to 120C, wipe the rub from the legs and place them into a large casserole or deep baking dish. Cover the duck with the fat and place the legs into the oven for about 3 hours or until the meat is literally falling off the bone.
Once the duck is in the oven wash the sweet potatoes, place them on a baking sheet and pop them into the oven along with the duck. The slow cooking caramelises the natural sugars in the sweet potato giving it a more complex flavour. The sweet potatoes need to be roasted until you can pierce them with a knife with no resistance. Depending on the size of your sweet potatoes this can take roughly 2hours.
Once the sweet potatoes are butter soft and cooked through, allow them to cool a little, before peeling away their skins and mashing them with the butter and maple syrup. Season to taste with salt and pepper and if using a squirt of Sriracha.
The sweet potato can be set aside and reheated later.
Prior to serving (and before putting on your dinner party outfit!) heat the canola oil on medium-high. Roughly chop the kale and drop it into the hot oil, for a few seconds. DONT let the kale go brown- it will taste burnt! If this is sounding too much prep, cheat and buy kale chips from your local health food store.
When nearly ready to serve, turn the oven to grill. Remove the duck legs from the fat and place them on a clean baking sheet. Place the duck legs under the grill (in the lower part of the oven so they don’t burn), skin side up, until the skin is golden and crisp. Warm the sweet potato on the stove before dolloping it onto warmed plates. Place the crisp duck on top and scatter over the crispy kale.
Well done you domestic goddess!