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Duck confit: cooking time variations

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I have made duck confit a few times, mainly following Judy Rogers Zuni Cafe cookbook recipe as well as Buchon's cookbook and Michael Ruhlman's online post as guides (ruhlman.com/2010/09/how-to-make-duck-confit-fall-is-here-time-to-preserve-duck/)... What I have found confusing is that these sources are very diverse on the time---Judy says 1 1/2 - 2 hours (at 200 degrees) and Ruhlman, Emeril, Thomas Keller all fall on the side of 12 hours (same temp).

Using Judy Rogers shorter time, and using a tip from somewhere online about checking with a bamboo skewer (when it can be inserted without resistance, the duck is finished), I have made a very satisfactory product. On the other hand, if cooking for a much longer time results in even more wonderful results (and doesn't result in a product that falls apart when trying to crisp it after a few months in the fridge), I would be delighted to do that. I just don't want to re-invent the wheel if there is no reason... So if anyone has already done the comparison, I would be grateful to hear the verdict... I find it very curious that there is such a disparity in the cooking times amongst such talented chefs...

Here are the citations:

Buchon, page 135. Place an oven thermometer in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 190degrees F......and cook for 10 hours.

Michael Ruhlman (see URL in original post): ...put them in a 180 degree oven for 10 to 12 hours.

Emeril (http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/em... ...Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F.... Cover and bake for 12 to 14 hours, or until the meat pulls away from the bone.

Judy Rodgers, Zuni Cafe Cookbook, p432: ...I try to hold the fat at 200-205 degrees F..... In general, allow between 1 1/2 - 2 hours for 12 oz duck legs,....checking every 10 minutes after the first hour...

Thanks, Ken K

Edited by Ken Krone (log)
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First, welcome to eGullet and the forums, Ken Krone.

Now, I cook my duck confit sous vide - if I recall, it's at 178 F for about 10 hours. But when I used to do duck confit in the traditional manner (that is, submerged in a lot of fat) the fat was kept right around 190 F, and it couldn't have taken more than 2 hours.

I would tend to think that cooking duck at 190 F for 10 hours practically destroys it, but if Keller et.al. do it, who am I to say.

My go-to guide for the confit has always been Paula Wolfert's The Cooking of Southwest France.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

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Hi Ken,

I've made duck leg confit following Ruhlman's recipe a couple of times now, and I've been very happy with the results. I put the cured, rinsed legs in a pot, cover with fat, and heat on the stovetop over medium heat until it "simmers", at roughly 90C/195F. Put the uncovered pot into an 80C/180F oven, and leave for approx. 8 hrs. The fat keeps a temperature of roughly 80C for the entire cooking period. The meat has been very tender, but not so much that it falls off the bones.

I've also seen the variations you mention in cooking time - I believe Robuchon calls for approx. 1.5 - 2 hrs cooking on the stovetop over low heat. I've also been looking into the cooking times for slow-cooked/poached/simmered pork belly, and I've seen similarly differing results: Ranging from a brief 1.5 hr simmer on the stovetop compared to a 10 hrs poach in a 95C oven (courtesy of chef Blumenthal).

Can you overdo a confit/slow-cook of meat? Wouldn't you loose flavour to the cooking medium if you let the meat stay in there for too long?

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  • 1 month later...

I've made duck confit twice, once cooking in the oven, submerged in fat, for 12 hours, per Colicchio, and once for eight hours. The 12-hour duck fell apart. The 8-hour duck looked and tasted just fine. I may try to trim it back, two hours at a time, until I get to an optimum time.

Other than the falling apart -- not a problem if you're using the meat in some preparation other than a full, crisped leg quarter -- I could tell little if any difference in meat taste or texture.

Don't ask. Eat it.


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