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Duck Confit


howard88
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[Does Schneider claim that the legs can be stored as if they were non-revisionist confit?

What! No office copy of "Larousse!" :shock:

To be fair, Schneider calls this method "a radical departure." She also makes the point that the legs are cooked in their own fat.

Storage: Five days in the fridge, two months in the freezer.

Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

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1912-2008

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I keep seeing things called "confit" that contain neither meat nor fat. Just yesterday I was reading Gray Kunz's "Elements of Taste," and he has both a pickled lemon confit and a ginger confit. ... What gives? Is this another instance of a chef playing with a familiar term? Expanding its definition?

How are they prepared? I don't think it's entirely inappropriate to call something that has been cooked slowly completely submerged in fat a "confit" -- although it is stretching the definition when the ingredient is not meat (technically, it is stretching the definition when it is not meat cooked in its' own fat, but that's really splitting hairs).

Ginger Confit

from Gray Kunz's "Elements of Taste"

1/2 cup juliened peeled ginger

1/2 cup white vermouth

3 tbls honey

6 cloves

1 stick cinnamon

Juice of 1 lemon

Juice of 1 lime

Zest of 1 lemon, julienned

1 dried Chinese chile

1 tsp onion seeds

Kosher salt

Freshly ground white pepper

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan except the onion seeds, salt and pepper. Reduce to a jamlike consistency by simmering over medium-high heat. Cool to room temperature. Add the onion seeds and season with salt and pepper.

There ya go. No meat. No fat. Slow simmering, certainly, but I don't think that defines a confit.

What say y'all?

Chad

Chad Ward

An Edge in the Kitchen

William Morrow Cookbooks

www.chadwrites.com

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Confit is not fatty.  This is because the confit process renders out almost all of the fat.  I would be willing to bet that a confit duck leg is leaner than a roasted duck leg, and probably leaner than a roasted chicken leg.

I would have said that a confitted (if I may indeed say that) duck leg was no fattier than its raw counterpart, but I would not have claimed less fatty. Admittedly, I haven't done any sort of analysis.

How does your explanation stack up against the principle of diffusion?

Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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Have brined duck as per instructions on foodtv site for alton brown: good eats. Was delish, however agree with Dave that it would be unnecessary for confit and potentially interfere with true confit character and taste.

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Confit is not fatty.  This is because the confit process renders out almost all of the fat.  I would be willing to bet that a confit duck leg is leaner than a roasted duck leg, and probably leaner than a roasted chicken leg.

I would have said that a confitted (if I may indeed say that) duck leg was no fattier than its raw counterpart, but I would not have claimed less fatty. Admittedly, I haven't done any sort of analysis.

How does your explanation stack up against the principle of diffusion?

Is there more fat in bacon when it's raw or after it's been cooked? Would you imagine that there would be more fat in a piece of bacon that had been slowly cooked for 3 hours sumberged in bacon fat, or one that was roasted until cooked through in the oven? How about a raw piece of bacon versus the confited bacon?

I think it is simply a matter that a confited duck leg is more thoroughly rendered. In particular, the fat in and under the skin is more thoroughly rendered.

--

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I was wondering if I was insane (a distinct possibility) or simply ignorant (an even more distinct possibility). I keep seeing things called "confit" that contain neither meat nor fat. Just yesterday I was reading Gray Kunz's "Elements of Taste," and he has both a pickled lemon confit and a ginger confit. Both look more like chunky jams too me (with a little vinegar and they'd be chutneys, I believe).

What gives? Is this another instance of a chef playing with a familiar term? Expanding its definition? The recipes are in the "pickles" section, so he might be referring to the "conserved" connotation of the word. Or is he just screwing with us?

Chad

Well, in French, confit is actually not a noun at all; it's an adjective translated as "preserved" -- from the verb confire, "to preserve." So technically, "duck confit" would be preserved duck, while "ginger confit" would be preserved ginger and "lemon confit" would be preserved lemons.

It's just that in English we have other terms for other preserved foods (especially fruits) but no other words for the duck thing, so "confit" has come to mean the duck thing only and not other preserved foods. But strictly speaking, in French at least, the term "confit" should always be preceded by a noun denoting whatever is being preserved (i.e., duck confit, rabbit confit, grapefruit confit, herring confit, or whatever).

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Is there more fat in bacon when it's raw or after it's been cooked?  Would you imagine that there would be more fat in a piece of bacon that had been slowly cooked for 3 hours sumberged in bacon fat, or one that was roasted until cooked through in the oven?  How about a raw piece of bacon versus the confited bacon?

Your first example isn't analogous.

But have you actually tried the second? I'm as certain as I can be, without having done it myself, that you're right about what happens. I suppose the cellular structure allows fat out, but then locks up in the heat before fat can flow back in?

Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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Your first example isn't analogous.

:raz:

But have you actually tried the second? I'm as certain as I can be, without having done it myself, that you're right about what happens. I suppose the cellular structure allows fat out, but then locks up in the heat before fat can flow back in?

Yea... I didn't make that up. I have actually heard people whose expertise I respect say it. I think that the mechanism by which fat is rendered out of meat is stronger than the mechanism by which fat is absorbed back into meat. And, if you cook somehing in a liquid bath for several hours, you are going to render out pretty much all the fat in whatever it is you're cooking.

I would actually be interested to see data on just how much fat is absorbed into a piece of meat cooked submerged in fat. My guess is that it's not very much, especially when compared to vegetables (and especially starches).

--

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Your first example isn't analogous.

:raz:

But have you actually tried the second? I'm as certain as I can be, without having done it myself, that you're right about what happens. I suppose the cellular structure allows fat out, but then locks up in the heat before fat can flow back in?

Yea... I didn't make that up. I have actually heard people whose expertise I respect say it. I think that the mechanism by which fat is rendered out of meat is stronger than the mechanism by which fat is absorbed back into meat. And, if you cook somehing in a liquid bath for several hours, you are going to render out pretty much all the fat in whatever it is you're cooking.

I would actually be interested to see data on just how much fat is absorbed into a piece of meat cooked submerged in fat. My guess is that it's not very much, especially when compared to vegetables (and especially starches).

I don't think there's any net gain of fat. I would doubt that there's ever a net weight gain at all. There's too much stuff -- fat, collagen, water -- that gets loosened up and starts moving during long periods over heat. Once the cells give this stuff up, it's very difficult to get it back in, because cellular structures and muscle networks have been transformed, too. At best, you might get some re-uptake of liquids as the meat cools and the muscle fibers relax. As you point out, a starch molecule behaves very differently when it's heated.

(Made it up? I figured either you had done it, seen it done, or were conducting a thought experiment, which is somehow more noble than just making stuff up.)

Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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  • 1 month later...
I've got a question about duck leg confit....is there a shortcut? A 2-hour method? I know it would be tough, but does anyone know if it can be done?

Sure, it can be done. Just don't cure the legs before simmering in the fat. It won't be quite as tasty but still better than most anything on earth -- except maybe gravad lax, see thread of earlier this week.

Take duck legs, place in pan of rendered duck fat, simmer very low for 1-1/2 to 2 hours. Finished.

If you have anything more than 2 hours, cure the duck for whatever additional time you have.

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Soon I will be able to report on the results of my attempt to do duck confit in the slow cooker (aka crockpot). I made early this past week, and will probably use some tomorrow or Monday.

The particulars: I used one entire duck, cut up as follows: 2 whole leg/thigh quarters; 2 breast halves; 2 wings, trimmed of the tip; 3 segments of neck. Rubbed with a combination of kosher salt and my homemade Ras al hanout spice blend; placed in fridge heavy-duty plastic bag for about 2 days, then drained and salt/spice wiped off. Cooked in slow cooker, alternating high and low setting, for most of a day. Fats used: freshly rendered duck fat (from the victim itself); stored fat from many previously-cooked ducks; stored previously-rendered chicken fat; stored pork fat (from my Labor Day PernilFest); and most of a package of supermarket lard. The various fats all had their own spicings. (I also have, but did not use, rendered beef and lamb fats; too distinctive.)

It is stored in the fridge in 3 containers: one of legs, one of breast, and one of neck/wings. I had more than enough fat for the containers -- over 2 cups -- and about 2 cups of nicely jelling juices (a bit salty, but still eminently usable). Any suggestions which part(s) to try first?

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Suzanne F:

I am eager to hear the results of your crockpot duck confit. As an aside, I put a whole five pound chicken in the crockpot on a bed of onion, celery, carrots and garlic. It cooked on low for seven hours. The result was fall off the bone, tender, tasty chicken. With no liquid added whatsoever, I had a half quart of chicken/vegetable juices along with the rendered chicken fat which made a good gravy, using the fat for a roux. I did have to brown the chicken when finished under the broiler. The result was so good, I am thinking of trying chicken confit in the crock.

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We had some last night, and it was very, very good. One breast (one half-breast? I'm never sure how to refer to it) between the two of us.

I cooked a batch of Great Northern beans with garlic, rosemary, and bayleaf. Then made a sofritto of shallot, carrot, and celery in fat from the confit plus the chopped-up skin from the breast. Added the beans, what was left of the cooking water, and not quite a cup of the jellied juices that had been left in the crockpot. Plus some dried thyme and more of my Ras al Hanout. Baked that about 1/2 hour, then snuggled in the meat and baked it another 1/2 hour. The beans were a little overcooked, but delicious. The duck meat practically melted. :wub: Not much evidence of the initial spicing :sad: but very good flavor, not at all too salty. HWOE thought it tasted ever-so-slightly porky -- which it would have, given that I used fat from a pork roast, and lard, for part of the cooking fat.

In other words: IT WORKED VERY WELL!

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In the spirit of reporting alternatives to duck confit, I've had a wonderful pork tenderloin confit (served with cabbage and an apple-onion marmalade) at Gerald Hirigoyen's San Francisco restaurant, Fringale. This was a while back so I don't know if it is still on the menu. I made it at home from a recipe he published in Food & Wine (September Chef issue at ~ 6-8 years ago) and it was great.

(He published another version of this recipe in The Bes of Casual French Cooking but it is roasted rather than stewed in lard.

I guess the recipe is almost a type of rillette main course.

I also love pork carnitas in which you also stew pork for a long time in fat. Mexican Confit???

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

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  • 3 weeks later...

I've been working my way through my slow-cooker confit :wub: and wondered: How many times can I reuse the fat for other batches of confit? Of course, I don't add back the fat I use to cook other items (such as potatoes) -- just the fat I scrape off the pieces of duck as I pull them out and use them.

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  • 6 months later...
[

That said... in re to duck, it strikes me that duck is fatty enough that brining is usually not required for the meat to stay moist, so there is likely very little to gain. If you are searing the breasts and serving them rare, they will be moist no matter what. If you are making confit with the legs, a lot of the liquid will cook out of them no matter what. Even slow roasted, falling-off-the-bone whole duck has been plenty moist for my taste.

While there is a lot of fat in the duck skin, the meat itself is very lean. Certainly you don't need to brine a duck to be able to get it right but there could be some advantages. It seems to me this might work too for infusing some nice flavors, perhaps with orange juice in the brine.

Charles a food and wine addict - "Just as magic can be black or white, so can addictions be good, bad or neither. As long as a habit enslaves it makes the grade, it need not be sinful as well." - Victor Mollo

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  • 3 years later...

Choosing the most chickeny of the many confit topics to revive.

Made confit chicken the other week w/whole legs. Cured a couple of days acc. to Madeleine Kamman's formula in (the newer) Making of a Cook, with rosemary sprigs and Meyer lemon peel and a sprinkle of Turkish oiled chile flakes in there as well. Rinsed before cooking.

Used mostly chicken fat, topped up with extra virgin olive oil, which accounted for perhaps less than a quarter of the total volume of fat.

Excellent result.

Priscilla

Writer, cook, & c. ● #TacoFriday observant ●  Twitter    Instagram

 

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I've done chicken confit a number of times, although the fat I used was not entirely nor even mostly chicken fat.

I have this container of hodge-podge "confit fat" in my fridge that I've used and re-used for assorted poultry confits, that actually probably is over 50% olive oil. Whenever I'm doing it, I'll render what fat I can from the bird and use that, augmented with some of the olive oil mixture; then I strain and reserve the fat when done and add it to the mix. It's fantastic in salad dressings and sautees as well.

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