Recipe video above. A traditional recipe for Duck Confit from a French chef! Called Confit de Canard in French, duck legs are slow-cooked in duck fat until the meat is meltingly tender, then the skin crisped to golden perfection. This Duck Confit recipe is low-effort and DOESN'T require buckets of duck fat! Simple, yet a lusciously indulgent dish worthy of gracing restaurant tables. This might just be the ultimate dish for a low-stress dinner party or treating your loved ones!Recipe courtesy of Chef Jean-Baptiste Alexandre, culinary collaborator for all things French. Meet Chef "JB" here.
Coat duck with dry cure: Place duck legs and all the Dry Cure ingredients in a large bowl. Toss well with your hands.
Cure 12 - 24 hrs: Transfer to a ceramic or glass dish large enough so the duck fits in a single layer but snugly. Cover and refrigerate for 12 - 24 hours (no longer is necessary).
Rinse: Brush off cure and rinse duck under tap water to clean them (remove all salt and black bits). Pat dry with paper towels.
Slow cooking (confit):
Preheat oven to 100°C/210°F (80°C fan) with a shelf positioned in the middle of the oven.
Roasting pan: Place duck in a small metal roasting pan with high sides. They should fit snugly, touching each other, but in a single layer. (Note 5)
Cover with duck fat: Pour fat over duck. It should pretty much cover the legs. (Note 6)
Heat fat in pan: Place pan on the stove over medium-high heat. Heat fat until bubbling energetically all across the surface (ie not just around the edges).
Cover with paper: Turn off stove. Cover surface with baking / parchment paper, cut to size so it sits on the surface of the fat over the duck. Gently push down to remove air bubbles. Cover pan tightly with a double layer of foil.
Slow cook: Carefully transfer to the oven. Cook for 8 hours.
Check flesh: Remove one duck leg (gently). Turn over to check the flesh side – meat should be fall-apart tender. Leg should also give easily when pressure is applied to the joint (see video).
Storing cooked Duck Confit (optional):
Duck can be stored submerged in fat at this stage. The meat juice should be strained off first.
Remove duck to a non-reactive container in which they fit snugly. (Note 7) Pour over cooled duck fat, leaving juice sediment behind. Ensure it fully covers the duck (push duck under while warm and pliable as needed, using tongs).
Once fully cool, cover with lid and place in fridge (5 days) or freezer (3 months). Fat will solidify.
To cook, heat duck gently in a container in microwave to melt the fat. Proceed with recipe.
Crisping skin and finishing Duck:
Preheat oven to 240°C/465°F (220°C fan). Place a rack over a deep roasting pan.
Remove duck from fat: Remove duck from fat, allowing excess oil to drip off. Pat excess oil off with paper towels.
Prepare for roasting: Pour 2.5cm / 1" of boiling water water into the roasting pan (steam keeps flesh moist). Place duck on rack, skin side up.
Crisp skin: Roast duck for 40 minutes until the skin is a deep golden and crispy. Rotate pan as needed for even colour. (You won't have problems with fat smoking as it drips into the water)
Serve: Rest briefly to cool, and serve! A classic French side dish for Duck Confit is Lentil Ragout. (pictured in post)
1. Duck legs – This dish calls for the upper duck leg with the thigh attached, a cut also known as a "maryland" here in Australia. It must be skin on and bone in. If frozen, thaw completely and pat dry well with paper towels before commencing the recipe.In my photos I've trimmed off the end of the leg bone, for a neater look. You don't have to do this!2. Duck fat – Sold in jars at large grocery stores these days! Australia: Woolworths, Coles, Harris Farms. The price has come down significantly in the past 5 years. I use duck fat from the aisle rather than fridge section.3. Dry Cure ingredients notes:
Fresh herbs measurement – Use sprigs and lightly pack them into cup measures. Use ingredient photos in post and the recipe video for visual guide, or weights provided in recipe.
Smashed garlic – Place side of large knife on garlic then use the heel of your hand to bash the side of the knife once, making the garlic burst open but mostly hold together.
Eschalots –Also known as French onions, and called “shallots” in the US. They look like baby onions, but have purple-skinned flesh, are finer and sweeter. Not to be confused with what some people in Australia call “shallots” ie the long green onions.
4. Salt – Measurements are for cooking/kosher salt which have larger grains than table salt. If you only have table salt, reduce by 1/4 (otherwise it will be too salty).5. Pan for slow roasting - The key here is size, mine is 27cm x 21cm (10.5" x 8"). Raw duck should fit in a single layer but snugly, touching, to reduce the amount of fat required to cover it. The duck will shrink as it cooks so snug is fine.Metal pans are best so you can do the initial heat of the oil with the duck in it on the stove. But if you only have ceramic or glass, pour the duck fat into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Warm the ceramic / glass baking dish by running under hot water, then dry (shock of boiling hot oil in fridge cold glass can make some shatter!) Put duck in per recipe, then pour fat over the duck and place in oven.6. Duck fat coverage for cooking – Fat should virtually cover the legs (see photos in post / video). While some fat will be released by the duck itself during the slow roasting time, it doesn't raise the fat levels. If the highest point of the flesh or the bone ends are poking out a bit, that's ok.7. Cooked duck storage – Fully submerged in fat, will keep for 5 days in the fridge or 3 months in the freezer.Container can be glass, ceramic or plastic, but key is the size such that the duck fits snugly (stacked or single layer) so they are fully submerged in fat (key for food safety for fridge to ensure it remains preserved).Traditionally, the duck would be stored for prolonged periods just in a cool place. 99.99% of cases, you can store the duck in your fridge for several months without spoilage. To be cautious, I recommend only 5 days in the fridge else freeze. But if you're comfortable with storing it the traditional way, feel free.8. What to do with used duck fat – Store in an airtight container or jar in the fridge for 6 months or freezer for longer, as long as the fat is clean.Reusing the fat: Duck fat can be reused around 3 times for Duck Confit before it gets too salty (just taste before use). To check if it's still OK, smell it. If it smells rancid or smelly, discard. If too salty for Duck Confit, use it for Duck Fat Potatoes!98% of the duck fat after roasting will be clean, pure fat. But there will be some duck juices which will decrease the shelf life of the fat. To remove this, pour the cooled fat into a jug using a fine mesh strainer. The duck juice will settle at the bottom (fat is clear pale gold, juice is brownish). Then pour the fat off, leaving behind the duck juice. Alternatively, strain the fat into a jug and let it solidify in the fridge. Then scrape the fat off, leaving behind the juice (which will firm into a jelly). You'll need to reheat the fat to pour into a container.9. Source – This recipe was created in collaboration with Jean-Baptiste Alexandre, a French chef residing in Sydney who works with me on some of the more iconic recipes of the world. If there's anyone who will know Duck Confit, if it's a French chef!