Thursday, 25 February 2010
Confit is one of France’s finest gifts to humanity. Tough pieces of meat cooked long and slow in a thick jacuzzi of fat until it is meltingly tender and supremely tasty? Hand it over. Immediately.
Traditionally a method of preservation, the meat would sit quite happily in its fatty suspension for months on end – the surrounding lard preventing bacteria from scuttling in and spoiling the delicious meat within.
Not the most practical thing to do at home, especially in small quantities, confit duck is something I eat only rarely which is why I was intrigued by an alternative method discussed over port and candied fish.
Not only does it require a fraction of the amount of fat but reportedly yields results on a par with the traditional method. Some even go so far as to say superior. Everything that is good about confit in a neat domestic kitchen friendly method. A challenge too tempting to pass over.
Quick Duck Confit
Buy a whole duck. Seriously. Don’t bother faffing about with legs and breasts. Just buy the entire bird and get busy with a sharp knife. It’s much cheaper and you can then render your own fat from the leftover bits and bobs.
[Steamed bum-plings, anyone? Dim Bum?]
Sprinkle the legs with a little salt then put them in a steamer over a pan of water into which you’ve dropped some aromatics – cinnamon, star anise, chillies, peppercorns. Whatever takes your fancy. Bring to the boil and steam gently for 50-60 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and leave to cool.
Bag the legs and refrigerate them for at least 12 hours. Freeze them if necessary but they should keep for 3-4 days in the fridge.
When you’re feeling peckish liberally spread a teaspoon or so of duck fat over the legs , sprinkle with a little salt and roast for 8-10 minutes. If you want crispy skin – and I can only assume you really do – then pop them under the grill for two minutes each side.
The results? Crispy, salty skin. Sweet, juicy tender meat. The merest hint of warmth from the spices. As close to food nirvana as it is possible to get. Whatever your menu plans tonight, change them immediately and do this. You won’t regret it.
More tasty titbits can be found on Twitter