Sunday, December 14, 2008

Making Duck Confit

I'd I'd be curious to know how many people still preserve fat ducks for the winter months now that every butcher makes it in-house and every supermarket sells it in cans (including one I fantasize about that hold a dozen legs). 

A few weeks ago, in the Mirepoix depot-vente (bric-a-brac consignment store) I picked up one of the traditional tall, narrow terracotta pots used to hold duck confit. The going rate for these is five euros and there are plenty around. At the same time,  fat, pale duck legs seemed to be everywhere, along with fat duck wings, fat duck necks, and fat duck carcasses, all by-products of foie gras farming. 

I bought three seriously overweight legs at the butcher's stall in the halles in Lavelanet on Friday, salted them overnight, and simmered them gently on Saturday. All the recipes I've read say that the legs must be covered in fat. Even though I've been banking it in the fridge ever since we got back here at the start of November, there still wasn't enough. Little stashes had accumulated at the rear of the fridge so I added those, then scooped the top layer off a half-emptied can of confit. It was rather like being a kid again, and feeling down the sides of the sofa and inside coat pocket for enough spare change to buy a bus ticket. 

The shots, in order, are of the duck end of the butcher's stall, the legs at the salting stage, and the fat at the still liquid point with the duck, now in its pot, completely immersed in it. 

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