Tag Archives: duck

Duck confit and underachievers

I sometimes suspect I might be a bit of a slacker. I’m always hearing about people ‘power walking’, whereas I walk, or at a push, hike if hiking’s called for. And do I spend ‘quality time’ with my family? We eat lunch and dinner together and sometimes even load/unload the dishwasher (although this does inevitably involve heated discussion), but is this enough to qualify? ‘Foodies’ is a term also frequently used. I enjoy cooking and am a bit greedy have a good appetite, but does this make me a foodie?  I could go on, but will stop before I completely trash myself 😉

If I were a ‘power-walking’ sort of person, I would no doubt confit my own duck. As it is, I buy it in a tin. Quite apart from my ‘underachieving’ status, there’s absolutely no way I could confit a duck that I had built up a relationship with (ie caught a glimpse of whilst still alive).

Duck confit (or ‘confit de canard’) is a speciality of Gascony. Confit is a process of preservation that consists of salt curing a piece of meat (generally goose, duck, or pork) and then poaching it in its own fat. Duck fat is a healthy choice for cooking –  it contains 35.7% saturates, 50.5% monounsaturates (high in linoleic acid) and 13.7% polyunsaturated fats (which contain omega-6 and omega-3 oils).

Ingredients (serves four)

4 confit duck thighs (either from a tin or preserved in a jar)

Turn the thighs and solidified fat out into a deep frying pan. Heat on a very low heat to liquefy the fat very gradually. Little by little, drain the liquefied fat from the frying pan into another container and set aside to use as cooking oil for potatoes. Once the surplus fat is drained off, turn the heat up to medium and cook for about eight minutes on each side. The result should be dark golden-brown and very very crisp.

May be served alone with green beans or salad with walnut oil dressing, or with cubed potatoes fried for 15 minutes in the duck fat and garnished with crushed garlic.

And finally, once again for those worried about consuming dishes so apparently high in dietary fat:

‘A high cholesterol diet is not the cause of atherosclerosis. In 50 men with a fourfold increase in dietary cholesterol, two-thirds failed to show an increase in serum cholesterol. Seven patients in another study, while consuming large amounts of beef fat and vitamin and mineral supplements, showed a decrease in average cholesterol levels.’                                                                                                  Roy W. Dowdell, MD, Health Freedom News

Duck breast

This is a typical Gascon dish, and one that we enjoy quite frequently.  In the winter it’s lovely served with potatoes fried in duck fat and green beans. In the summer it’s delicious finely sliced and served lukewarm on a green salad with orange slices and mint. It should not be overcooked  – the meat should be pink.  The aim of a good magret de canard is a crisp skin on the outside and liberation of all the fat between the skin and the meat (which is why the fat should be drained off several times).

Everyone benefits from this dish; we eat the meat and the dog eats the fat, which is often slung across the table at him (not by me I hasten to add). Not that he actually sits at the table with us, obviously. It’s funny though how his ‘catch on the fly’ reflexes are spot-on when it comes to catching airborne duck fat, far more so than for catching common or garden morsels.

One last thing. Please remember if asking for this in a restaurant in France that it is ‘magret de canard’ and not, as a friend of my once ordered, ‘magret de connard’; the former is duck breast, the latter roughly translated means ‘breast of arsehole’…

Ingredients (serves 4)

2 duck breasts

rock salt, pepper

1 tablespoon of honey

star anise

Preheat the oven to very hot (220°C). Score the duck breasts on the fatty side using a very sharp knife, cutting in a parallel lines. Generously Season both sides of each breast with the rock salt and pepper and then the honey.  Put the two breasts together, fat side out. Bind with colourless string.  Cook for 15 minutes on one side, remove from oven and drain the fat. Then 15 minutes on the other side, remove and drain. Put back for another 15 minutes or until the skin is golden brown.

Slice into slices of just under a centimetre and serve.