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Confit Duck

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If it solidifies at room temperature and is perfectly clean, I don't see why you couldn't add it to your stash of fat.

You do need quite a bit to make confit unless you are planning to follow nathanm's method above.


“C’est dans les vieux pots, qu’on fait la bonne soupe!”, or ‘it is in old pots that good soup is made’.

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Replying to several posts...

==============

The water temperature in the water bath is the external temperature - the heat soaks into the food and ultimately it all comes into equilibrium at the same temperature. However, that takes a while, depending on the thickness, and on the temperature conductivity of the food. A piece of styrofoam would take longer for the center to come into equilibrium than a block of copper, because copper is an excellent conductor of heat, and styrofoam is a very poor conductor (i.e. a good insulator). Meat is somewhere in between in conductivity.

You can do the same thing in an oven - I use a water bath because most ovens are not accurate at low temperatures.

A slow cooker filled with water would be another sort of water bath. Slow cookers are not that accurate either, and generally don't have much temperature control. The manufacturers are scared about somebody getting sick from slow-cooked food at too low a temperature and suing them, so they generally make the lowest tempertaure like 200F. This would work for confit, but you generally get better texture at a somewhat lower temperature. The higher you go the more the risk is of overdoing it, and being left with mush. The time would be less than at 180F.

Some cooking is aimed at bringing the food to an internal temperature and then you stop as soon as it does - say, in cooking a steak. Confit, and most forms of braising, are about bringing it to a temperature, then letting it sit there for a period of time to allow a chemical conversion to take place - like collagen denaturing into gelatin, fat melting etc. Those changes are what makes confit what it is in terms of texture and taste. The rate of the changes depends a bit on temperature - you can speed it up or slow it down a bit. However the unique aspcets of confit depend on long slow cooking.

So, the long time cooking time is partly because it takes a while for the heat to soak in - but that is probably not more than an hour or two of the cooking time. The rest is letting the meat sit at temperature to change.

In my experiment last night I did boneless pork butt confit, and lamb shank confit. I tried it at both 9 hours and 12 hours at 180F. The 9 hour version was fine, the 12 hour was a bit more tender. Either one would be acceptible. Depending on the meat, and the thickness, you might be able to cut it down lower than 9 hours, or even less if move the temperature up a bit. However, ultimately you risk moving into somethnig that is not confit like.

Duck legs are significantly thinner than a lamb shank (say have to a third less) that should cut an hour or so off the time right there.

Note that none of these parameters are super critical - the difference between one extra or one less hour is only a 10% effect. As long as your temperature does not way out of whack it is hard to over or under cook this unless you are off by many hours.

==========

Flavor would presumably develop during aging the same way in a vacuum bag as the traditional way. Part of the point of preserving meat this way is that the layer of fat sealed out oxygen - that is also what the vacuum bag accomplishes.

===========

I store the food as I cook it - i.e. if it is on the bone when I cook it, I leave it on the bone for storage.


Nathan

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Thank you for a great explanation.

If one doesn't have one of those seal a meal pouches, one could cook the duck in the fat and keep it at 190 by removing the cover when the temperature stabilizes which takes about 2 hours. Then there is another 2 to 2 1/2 hours to cook the duck legs. Fiinally letting the duck to cool in the fat for another hour gets you to a 5 hour cooking session.

Though I've always been happy with my confit prepared in a slow cooker, I can't wait to try your method.


“C’est dans les vieux pots, qu’on fait la bonne soupe!”, or ‘it is in old pots that good soup is made’.

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If it solidifies at room temperature and is perfectly clean, I don't see why you couldn't add it to your stash of fat.

You do need quite a bit to make confit unless you are planning to follow nathanm's method above.

My goodness... I just got my query answered by Paula Wolfert. I'm truly honored.

yup, me too. great start to a great year, i hope!

i have some somewhat elderly confit in the back of the outside fridge (vintage 8/04?) and it is covered with a nice thick fat layer, so with what came from roasting this duck, rendering fat, and skimming from the stock, there's plenty for a new batch. off to the duck market on monday for a new batch of confit.

made a pleasant duck ragu with some of the roast duck meat, to serve over spinach pasta made with the new kitchenaid pasta roller from santa. mmmm, duck ragu. happy new year!


"Laughter is brightest where food is best."

www.chezcherie.com

Author of The I Love Trader Joe's Cookbook ,The I Love Trader Joe's Party Cookbook and The I Love Trader Joe's Around the World Cookbook

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Are we done thanking the french for all there contributions,remember

BETH V-Bechamel,Espagnole-(Which nobody does)Tomato,Hollaindaise,Veloute---My girl----Beth V--Careme-Escoffier

for the times they are a changing-Foam This!!!

Dave s


"Food is our common ground,a universal experience"

James Beard

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We'll always owe the french one, culinarily speaking...


Allan Brown

"If you're a chef on a salary, there's usually a very good reason. Never, ever, work out your hourly rate."

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nice thick fat layer, so with what came from roasting this duck, rendering fat, and skimming from the stock, there's plenty for a new batch. off to the duck market on monday for a new batch of confit.

not so fast-----fat that comes from roasting is a no-no for making confit. It is damaged (overheated) fat. Please dump it


“C’est dans les vieux pots, qu’on fait la bonne soupe!”, or ‘it is in old pots that good soup is made’.

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not so fast-----fat that comes from roasting is a no-no for making confit.  It is damaged (overheated) fat.  Please dump it

hmmmm... i was trying out a method (barbara kafka's?) where the duck is first poached in stock (that's why there was a considerable fat layer to salvage), then roasted in a hot oven for a brief period (about 30 min)---do you think that fat is still overheated? it is very creamy pale yellow. not browned. thanks for your experienced response!


"Laughter is brightest where food is best."

www.chezcherie.com

Author of The I Love Trader Joe's Cookbook ,The I Love Trader Joe's Party Cookbook and The I Love Trader Joe's Around the World Cookbook

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Nathan,

You mention that you haven't done the duck confit sous vide yourself, but you've had it prepared by others. Do you know what temperatures/times were used? And how much fat was used?

I've tried it myself with mixed results. I seasoned the duck leg/thigh quarters (from Long Island duckling which is all I could get locally), sealed them in the vacuum bags along with roughly 1.5 T of duck fat, and let them sit in the fridge for a day. I heated them in a water bath at 68°C (154°F) for about six hours. Then I got impatient and cranked the temperature up to 77°C (171°F) and cooked for an additional 2 hours, chilled them in ice bath, and refrigerated.

The results were flavorful and reasonably tender, but definitely not "confit". One mistake I made was in trying to combine the marination and cooking stages rather than following the traditional procedure of marinating in the dry rub, rinsing/drying, and then cooking. I thought that the flavors from the (light) seasoning would absorb during the rest period and slow cooking. Next time I'll do the traditional treatment using Paula's salt-to-meat ratio.

It's also clear that I need to start out at a higher temperature and/or use a considerably longer cooking time. Even the higher temp I ended up at is lower than what you specified for the pork and lamb. I'll try 10 - 12 hours next time. I'm inclined to stick with the lower temperature and extend the cooking time.

If you make duck confit, please report your results here or in your sous vide thread. Thanks for the info.

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not so fast-----fat that comes from roasting is a no-no for making confit.  It is damaged (overheated) fat.  Please dump it

hmmmm... i was trying out a method (barbara kafka's?) where the duck is first poached in stock (that's why there was a considerable fat layer to salvage), then roasted in a hot oven for a brief period (about 30 min)---do you think that fat is still overheated? it is very creamy pale yellow. not browned. thanks for your experienced response!

I wouldn't advise it.

I guess you could do a taste test with a teaspoon of each: fry a small piece of bread in fat from normal rendering and another from the roasting fat and note the difference.


“C’est dans les vieux pots, qu’on fait la bonne soupe!”, or ‘it is in old pots that good soup is made’.

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I wouldn't advise it.

I guess you could do a taste test with a teaspoon of each: fry a small piece of bread in fat from normal rendering and another from the roasting fat and note the difference.

mmmm, fried bread taste test....i can do that. and look, it's breakfast time! good suggestion--thanks!


"Laughter is brightest where food is best."

www.chezcherie.com

Author of The I Love Trader Joe's Cookbook ,The I Love Trader Joe's Party Cookbook and The I Love Trader Joe's Around the World Cookbook

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I wouldn't advise it.

I guess you could do a taste test with a teaspoon of each: fry a small piece of bread in fat from normal rendering and another from the roasting fat and note the difference.

potato scones fried in duck fat.

*mouthgasms*

excuse me while I remove the drool from the keyboard.


Allan Brown

"If you're a chef on a salary, there's usually a very good reason. Never, ever, work out your hourly rate."

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Nathan,

It's also clear that I need to start out at a higher temperature and/or use a considerably longer cooking time.

I'm just going to jump in here about starting off at a hgh temperature. I am eager to read Nathan reply to all the rest.

I had learned that it is best to start the duck and the fat at room temperature and let it slowly heat together to the temperature desired, poach it at that temperature for a few hours or until a straw easily slips into the flesh, and finally to let the duck cool down in the fat. This has worked for me for more than 20 years.

I never felt the need to shift gears but Nathan's comments about using so much less fat means more people might jump in and try their hand at making confit. Is there a downside to home cooks doing this? I wonder about leaving the duck in the bag afterwards for further aging..


Edited by Wolfert (log)

“C’est dans les vieux pots, qu’on fait la bonne soupe!”, or ‘it is in old pots that good soup is made’.

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I'm just going to jump in here about starting off at a hgh temperature. I am eager to read Nathan reply to all the rest.

I had learned that it is best to start the duck and the fat at room temperature and let it slowly heat together to the temperature desired, poach it at that temperature for a few hours or until a straw easily slips into the flesh, and finally to let the duck cool down in the fat. This has worked for me for more than 20 years.

I never felt the need to shift gears but Nathan's comments about using so much less fat means more people might jump in and try their hand at making confit. Is there a downside to home cooks doing this? I wonder about leaving the duck in the bag afterwards for further aging..

The gradual increase in temperature sounds like the right approach to me. One of the advantages of sous vide cooking, as Nathan pointed out, is the ability to "dial in" a precise temperature if you're using a steam oven or water bath. I'm still not sure what temperature I should be aiming for - more experimentation needed.

One thing I didn't mention about my previous attempt was the amount of juices that accumulated in the bag during cooking. I don't know if that has any effect on the heat transfer (compared to duck fat alone), or how it might affect the storage properties. I was hoping to keep the duck sealed in the bag until use. Perhaps a more traditional dry cure will reduce the moisture in the duck before cooking. The duck needs to be fairly well dried before using a Foodsaver-style vacuum machine, and the fat should be well chilled so that it doesn't mess up the seal. A chamber machine won't have that problem.

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Most of my experience with making confit of pork (shoulder, butt, belly) and lamb (shanks). In general I cook these at between 170F (77C) and 180F (82C) for between 8 - 12 hours. The results are very much like duck confit.

This temperature, along with ample fat (rendered lard, duck fat, olive oil) gives you a texture that is very similar to duck confit. I have been served sous vide duck confit in restaurants and I believe that the numbers would be similar.

At lower temperatures, or for shorter times, it does not turn out like confit at all. So, I think that this was part of your problem.

Recall that the original recipe posted in this thread by Culinary Bear was 90C for 12 to 14 hours. Sous vide does not speed up the cooking, so I would expect the times to be similar.

As a base line for duck confit I would suggest 180F (82C) and letting it go for at least 8 hours. Package the legs invidually, 1 to a vacuum bag - that way you can sample them at invtervals. You might want to try more like 2 -3 tablespoons fat per leg.

Take one out at 8 hours, and then periodically up to 12 hours. If that does not work, then try longer time periods - up to 14 or even a bit more. It is possible that you would need to go higher temp - to 200F (90C) - but I doubt that. My experiments with pork suggest that you are better off at 80C to 82C.

In general, sous vide lets you cook at a lower temperature for longer - for example many people braise short for as long as 36 hours sous vide, but at lower temperatures than normal braising (60C to 66 C - 140F to 150F).

The marination should proceed conventionally. There is no reason to suppose that sous vide cooking would change the marination process for confit. That may be part of the issue with your approach. So, if I am brining pork, I do it conventionally, then cook it sous vide. The same should be true for duck confit - follow the conventional recipe up to the point of cooking, then seal the legs in the bags with fat..

There are vacuum systems for doing marination, using vacuum marinators and tumblers - I have one of those too, but it is VERY different than sous vide.

It does not matter all that much whether you increase the temperature gradually or not. In fact, I would recommend not. As it stands, sous vide is pretty gentle cooking. Just use a water bath at 180F (82C) for the whole time.

What you are trying to do with confit is raise the temperature of the meat to the desired level, then let it sit there for an extented period of time while some parts of the meat break down - collagen to gelatin, fat rendering etc. The quicker the interior reaches the critical temperature, the more time that it will spend doing the conversion process.

In normal cooking you are using a flame or other heat source that is WAY hotter than you want the meat to be, so you have to be careful and time it carefully. Here you are using a medium (water in a water bath, or steam in a steam oven) that is the same temperature as you want the meat to be.


Nathan

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Thank you so much for taking the time to explain confit in sous vide.

I've done fish that way based on an ersatz method of sous vide packing. (If you have my book on the cooking of southwest france, see pages 349 and 149.)

I became so entranced with this method that I had a correspondence with a French Canadian scientist\cook named Pierre de Serres. He taught me that when the temperature of the water and the fish are the same, the fish can stay in the package in the water all day without breaking down or deteriorating. In fact, it is just as good 30 minutes after it is placed in the waterbath or as long as 10 hours. This was back in the 80's when Georges Pralus was inspiring a lot of people to work with sous vide.


Edited by Wolfert (log)

“C’est dans les vieux pots, qu’on fait la bonne soupe!”, or ‘it is in old pots that good soup is made’.

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You don't need to thank me - its my pleasure to contribute...

As you say, the ability to cook precisely in temperature without being precise about timing and without fear of overcooking is one of the attractions of sous vide. It is great alternative for things that otherwise have to be cooked to the second.

Most high heat things I now cook slowly via sous vide, then quickly sear the surface at even higher heat than I would normally use. Fois gras, for example, is excellent this way - particularly if you want to cook a whole fois gras. You can make the inside perfect, then sear the outside... Cooking only by searing in a pan requires much more precise timing. Fish, shrimp and lobster are all great this way - you can avoid overcooking without worrying about timing.

The other class of items that are good done sous vide are preparations like confit, or braised dishes, that even in conventional cooking have long slow cook times.

With confit in particular, it lets you use a much smaller amount of fat and makes clean up easy.

As soon as I can pick up some ducks I'll give it a shot and verify the times and temperatures...


Nathan

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This is very exciting. I await your experiments.

FYI, I once watched Michel Bras poach a 3-pound calf's liver ( in one piece) wrapped sous vide very slowly in barely heatded water. His intention being to cook it without allowing it to toughen. The resulting texture was silky texture. As you say the result of precision cooking. After being cooked to medium-rare, the liver was chilled, sliced very thin, and served with a sharp radish vinaigrette.


“C’est dans les vieux pots, qu’on fait la bonne soupe!”, or ‘it is in old pots that good soup is made’.

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Stupid Question Alert!

Please forgive me for asking this, but I'm wondering, do you need to be a fan of dark meat to like Duck Confit? I generally prefer breast meat, so am wondering how the confit method affects the flavor? In other words, is there I chance I might like it, even if I'm not normally a fan of leg/dark meat? Could the breast meat be prepared this way, and would it make sense to do so?

:shock: Thanks!

Pam

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Stupid Question Alert!

Please forgive me for asking this, but I'm wondering, do you need to be a fan of dark meat to like Duck Confit?  I generally prefer breast meat, so am wondering how the confit method affects the flavor? In other words,  is there I chance I might like it, even if I'm not normally a fan of leg/dark meat? Could the breast meat be prepared this way, and would it make sense to do so?

:shock: Thanks!

Pam

Breast is usually served Rare and sliced. Legs are tougher and need that time to get tender. That said, I consider all of duck to be dark meat. :biggrin:


Bruce Frigard

Quality control Taster, Château D'Eau Winery

"Free time is the engine of ingenuity, creativity and innovation"

111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321

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...

As a base line for duck confit I would suggest 180F (82C) and letting it go for at least 8 hours.  Package the legs invidually, 1 to a vacuum bag - that way you can sample them at invtervals.  You might want to try more like 2 -3 tablespoons fat per leg.

Take one out at 8 hours, and then periodically up to 12 hours.  If that does not work, then try longer time periods - up to  14 or even a bit more.  It is possible that you would need to go higher temp - to 200F (90C) - but I doubt that.  My experiments with pork suggest that you are better off at  80C to 82C.

...

It does not matter all that much whether you increase the temperature gradually or not.  In fact, I would recommend not.  As it stands, sous vide is pretty gentle cooking.  Just use a water bath at 180F (82C) for the whole time.

...

Thanks for the temperture/time guidance. I like the idea of packaging the legs individually and pulling them at intervals to determine the best time.

The main reason I thought that a gradual increase in temperature might be benificial is that it would give the meat enzymes more time to tenderize before being deativated by heat. (See page 144 of the new edition of McGee). I'm not certain that my assumption is correct, or that the enzyme action would even be desirable. Just another variable in the mix.

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I have 2 dozen duck legs vacuum packed with duck fat in a water bath at 180' right now. I'm taking them for dinner one night for a group on a ski trip in Utah next week. I've done alot of confit the usual way, this is the first time with this method. I've been curious about it since I read the sous vide thread and decided it was time. I did a couple singles so I can pull them out at intervals to check the progress..............more later!

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I have 2 dozen duck legs vacuum packed with duck fat in a water bath at 180' right now.  I'm taking them for dinner one night for a group on a ski trip in Utah next week. I've done alot of confit the usual way, this is the first time with this method. I've been curious about it since I read the sous vide thread and decided it was time. I did a couple singles so I can pull them out at intervals to check the progress..............more later!

Please do report back! I am very interested in this technique, as I'm not too sure if I have a good source for duck fat where I live (although I do live next to an ethnic market that sells stuff like 2 pound packages of duck hearts, so maybe they would have some if I asked) and this technique looks like it would require much less fat to achieve an acceptable result. I'd really like to make my own confit for cassoulet.


Don Moore

Nashville, TN

Peace on Earth

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I have 2 dozen duck legs vacuum packed with duck fat in a water bath at 180' right now.  I'm taking them for dinner one night for a group on a ski trip in Utah next week. I've done alot of confit the usual way, this is the first time with this method. I've been curious about it since I read the sous vide thread and decided it was time. I did a couple singles so I can pull them out at intervals to check the progress..............more later!

Does anyone have experience cooking sous vide at high altitudes? I'm curious how the lowered boiling points of everything would affect the temperatures you'd need to hold.

MelissaH


MelissaH

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Chemist, writer, hired gun

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Does anyone have experience cooking sous vide at high altitudes? I'm curious how the lowered boiling points of everything would affect the temperatures you'd need to hold.

MelissaH

Temperature is temperature regardless of altitude. It is only when you get into "boiling" things or baking things that need to rise when the lower atmospheric pressure kicks in.


Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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