ABOUT DUCK CONFIT AND THE HEALTH
BENEFITS OF DUCK FAT
Duck confit is one of my favorite
dishes to cook. It can be made several
days ahead and stays well in the refrigerator
immersed in duck fat for weeks, although
it will be long gone by then. The
only difficult part of the dish is
accumulating the duck fat which is
rather expensive now to purchase.
For that reason I tend to buy a whole
duck, render my own duck fat use the
carcass for duck stock leaving the
breast for a magret dish and legs
for confit. Considering what a whole
duck costs and what the final products
are: ducks are a great value in cooking.
Furthermore, what many cooks are unaware
of is the health benefits to duck
fat. I must admit I was unaware of
this in my early cooking days. But,
many trips to France, and spending
time researching the field I am now
aware that duck fat has some very
Duck fat contains 35.7% saturates, 50.5% monounsaturates
(high in linoleic acid) and 13.7% polyunsaturated
fats.(which contains Omega-6 and Omega-3 essential
oils). This compares to olive oil which is:
75% monounsaturated fat (mostly oleic acid)
13% saturated fat and 10% Omega-6 linoleic acid
and 2% Omega-3 linoleic acid. The main difference
between chicken, turkey and duck is that duck
contains more linoleic acid, which chicken and
turkey contain a higher amount of polyunsaturated
fats --- Read
more about Health Benefits of Duck Fat
Preparation of Duck
For each 4 legs:
One of two days ahead marinate the duck.6 tablespoons
of kosher salt, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 tablespoon
cracked black pepper, 3 smashed and diced garlic
cloves, 2 bay leaves, 1 tablespoon crushed juniper
berries, 2 tablespoons fresh thyme.
Note: This is my standard marinade,
but you can either add or delete several items.
Some marinates work nice using ginger and star
anise instead of juniper berries. What's most
important is salt which will draw out moisture
from the legs. Just make sure to rinse and dry
the legs off before cooking or the dish will
be too salty.
I usually cook the duck for 3 hours and 225F
and then 2 hours at about 200F. If you are preparing
this dish for guests you can do the 3 hours
a few days before, then on the same day just
leave the pot in the oven for two hours at 200F.
You have to monitor this dish after 3 hours
to be careful that the duck does not release
from the bone. It won't be a problem with taste
but will be more difficult in presentation and
for crisping the skin.
Crisping the Skin
Heat one or two tablespoons of fat in a non-stick
frying pan. Add the duck legs skin side down
and cook on a medium flame till the skin crisps.
It may be necessary to hold the legs down to
allow for an even sear. Other methods include
putting the leg under the broiler in the oven
skin side down -- use whatever method works
best for you. It may take a few times to get
a method you feel comfortable with to crisp
the skin, so be patient with this step.
Notes in crisping: Make sure the leg has been
left at room temperature before beginning the
Preparing the Potatoes and Mushrooms:
Sauté the potatoes and mushrooms in
separate pans using duck fat until some browning
begins to occur. Be careful not to go past this
point since duck fat can easily burn vegetables.
Place some mesclun on a warmed plate. Add the
sauteed potatoes and mushrooms. Top with a duck
confit. Drizzle some reduced duck
stock if available.