Duck Confit

Duck Confit. Photo by Caroline West

Do Try This at Home


Duck confit could not be easier to prepare: dust kosher salt and herbs over duck legs and allow their flavours to imbue the meat for a day or two. Rinse and dry the meat and poach it in duck fat for a couple of hours until the meat is fall-off-the-bone tender. (This technique elicits gasps of horror in my cooking classes, but the anxiety subsides after the first succulent bite.)

Rendered duck fat is available at specialty butcher shops. While expensive, around $20 per litre, it’s well worth it. Once you’ve roasted potatoes in duck fat, there is no going back. You’ll be happy to have a pail in the fridge and you’ll find dozens of excuses to use it. For the record, duck fat is one of the healthier fats available; it is particularly high in cholesterol-fighting monounsaturated fats.

Duck confit can be kept for at least a month in the refrigerator and reheated when needed. (In France, it’s kept in the cold cellar for months on end.) It can be served whole with the skin deliciously crisped or shredded and tucked into an infinite variety of foods including pastas, ragouts, soups, tarts or tortillas. You can serve it in a hearty French cassoulet with beans and sausages or in a light salad paired with fruit. It can also be finely chopped and made into rillettes, a rustic spread delicious slathered on a baguette. The variations are endless.

1/4 cup kosher salt

1 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper

4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

2 large shallots, thinly sliced

1 Tbsp fennel seeds, lightly crushed

1 Tbsp freshly chopped parsley

4 sprigs fresh thyme

6 duck legs

Approx. 5 cups duck fat


Combine the salt with the pepper, garlic, shallots, fennel, parsley and thyme. Sprinkle half the mixture on the bottom of a dish large enough to hold the duck legs in a single layer. Place the duck on top of the salt mixture and then sprinkle with the remaining salt. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 to 48 hours.

Heat the oven to 240°F. Melt the duck fat in a saucepan over medium low heat.

Remove the duck from the salt, rinse thoroughly and pat completely dry with paper towels. Arrange the duck legs in a single snug layer in a wide, shallow, oven-safe saucepan, casserole or baking dish. Pour the melted fat over the duck. (The duck pieces must be completely covered by fat.)

Transfer the duck to the oven and gently simmer, uncovered, until the duck is tender and can be easily pulled from the bone, approximately 2 to 3 hours. Check the oven occasionally to make sure the fat is gently simmering; confit can become tough if the oven is too hot. Adjust the heat as required to achieve a very gentle simmer.

Store the duck in the fat in the refrigerator for up to one month. Excess duck fat can be strained and stored in the refrigerator for later use.

When ready to use, brown the duck pieces, skin side down, in a frying pan to crisp the skin. Then transfer to an oven until heated through, approximately 15 minutes at 325°F.

Frozen duck legs and duck fat (sold in two-litre pails) are available at Slaters Meats in Victoria. Oyama Sausage Company on Granville Island, in Vancouver, sells duck fat in 200 g and 250 g containers.


—Denise Marchessault

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