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Confit is a traditional French cooking method in which duck legs are salted and cooked in fat, which preserved them in the days before refrigeration. The cured legs are cooked for a long time at a low temperature which results in extremely tender meat that falls easily off the bone.
Mix together the salt and thyme leaves and rub into the duck legs. Salt-curing the meat acts as a preservative. Cover and leave to cure for 6 hours in the fridge
Preheat the oven to 120˚C
Rinse the cure from the duck and dry the legs thoroughly
Place the legs in an oven proof dish deep enough to contain the meat and cover with the rendered fat
Cover the dish with foil and place in the oven to cook for 3 hours or until the meat comes easily away from the bone
Leave to cool in the fat
Remove the legs from the fat and pat dry with kitchen roll before pan-frying to crisp up the skin or pulling the meat from the bone in delicious slivers to be used in fillings
After cooking, keep the flavourful duck fat in the fridge, discarding any jelly that forms on the bottom. The duck fat can be used in many other ways: for incredible roast potatoes, to sautée vegetables such as green beans or mushrooms, to spread on toasted bread or brioche and it also makes a very tasty addition to shortcrust pastry for tarts and quiches.
Confit duck is a rich, wintery dish that suits robust accompaniments like lentils, parsnips, red cabbage, kale and celeriac. Try Andy McLeish’s Confit duck cassoulet with Coco beans and Toulouse sausage or Andy Waters' duck confit recipe, which is served with braised red cabbage, caramelised Granny Smith apples and a savoury green peppercorn sauce. Alternatively, pull away the meat from the bone and use it in pies or filled pasta such as Phil Carnegie’s Duck confit tortellini with butternut squash velouté.
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