You know that phenomena when you hear a word for the first time, and out of nowhere it seems that everyone around you has started using that word from that point forward in everyday conversation? As though you unlocked Pandora’s vocabulary and sent this strange, new word spiraling into the minds of those around you, like the word god you are. We mortals call this oddity of life “perceptual vigilance”, and the phrase that chose itself to be perceptually vigilant in my mind as of late is the word confit.
The first time I came across this term was around 6 months or so ago, and I ticked my head to the side and mouthed, “con-fit?” pronouncing every ugly syllable, not realizing I was ignorantly pronouncing this French word as though I were a backwoods, Uncle-loving hobo. The very idea of confit (which is pronounced con-fee, by the way) is enough to send me into a fit of happy sobs. There are variations of confit to include vegetable and fruit confit, but in this instance we’re speaking of meat, people. Not only meat, but meat that has been lightly cured and then, wait for it… completely submerged and slowly cooked for hours in its own fat until nearly fall-off-the-bone tender. Isn’t that beautiful? Poetry for the tongue, I say.
After the meat has been cooked through in the fat, it is then cooled until the fat sets, which acts as a highly effective preservation method in which you can keep the meat at good quality for months. So it’s not only beautiful, but it’s magical, too.
Given its corpulent, fatty ass nature, duck is one of the best meats to turn into confit. They’re rich with lard and have a flavor that lies somewhere on the spectrum between pork and turkey, which isn’t at all as unsavory as it may sound. In fact, it’s quite nice. One minor caveat is that duck confit isn’t cheap to make, which would be the only reason why I don’t fill up my tub and bathe in it. Not to mention the hunt for rendered duck fat in Tampa Bay was like attempting to find a faction of Wal-Mart fanatics without a debilitating case of crippling halitosis. That is, to say, it was difficult.
Whatever quandaries I was meant to face on this endeavor, I did so without question or qualm and came out victorious… sort of. After curing my duck legs, I made the novice mistake of not rinsing off the salt cure and instead brushed it off before plopping them into the duck fat. Once they were done, I took a bite and at once came face to face with a shame that only a slutty nun could identify with. Shit was as salty as a sea snail’s scrotum, but all was fine and I had my duck fat-laced happy ending. I transformed the confit into rillette and then turned the rillette into ravioli and the ravioli into dinner. After all of this manipulation, the intense saltiness dissipated into welcomed brininess, and all was right with the world once more.
Well, except for the duck.
Duck Confit / Duck Rillette / Duck Ravioli
- 2 duck legs and thighs
- 1/4 cup kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp white pepper
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/4 tsp clove
- 1 head of garlic with top 1/4 cut off
- 2 11oz bottles of Rougie duck fat
- Mix together dry ingredients and rub over duck legs. Sprinkle remaining dry mix over duck legs, cover and refrigerate for up to three days, but ensuring at least one full day minimum.
- Rinse legs and pat dry, place in a pan with the head of garlic and cover completely with duck fat.
- Cook legs in duck fat over low heat for 2 1/2 to four hours where a temperature placed in the fat constantly reads between 190 and 210 degrees. The duck will be done when a toothpick easily enters the meat.
- Let cool until room temperature and then immediately place in fridge to sit for at least one day or up to a few weeks (it can last much, much longer with proper storage).
- Over a double boiler, slowly melt duck fat and remove legs. Place skin side down onto a thick bottomed frying pan over low heat and heat for 20 to 30 minutes, or until skin becomes crisp and the meat is heated through.
- Once done, you can remove the garlic from the duck fat for another use and strain the duck fat back into their containers to be used again.
- 2 legs duck confit
- 4 cloves of garlic from duck confit batch (or fresh, if preferred)
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1/4 cup of slightly softened butter
- 2 tbsp duck fat
- 2 tsp fresh parsley, minced
- salt and pepper to taste
- Shred meat duck confit into small pieces and combine all ingredients into a medium bowl. Mix well with fingers until well combined. If it looks like cat food, you’ve done a good job.
Duck Rillette Ravioli
- 4 large sheets of homemade pasta
- 1 batch of duck rillette
- Lay one sheet of pasta on a flat surface and add 1 tbsp of duck rillet every 2 inches.
- Cover with another sheet of pasta and press firmly around the meat and cut out to desired shape.
- Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil and remove from heat.
- Immediately add ravioli to water and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes or until pasta is cooked through.