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I can relate by personal experience.  I have a large scar where my left thigh meets my hip where I was shot while deer hunting when I was 16.  We were on private land, and there should have been no other hunters around.  Fortunately the shot came from a great distance as it was a 30:30 slug and didn't do any serious damage.  Actually the doctor who removed it did more damage than the shot itself.  Another fortunate thing was that it was near zero (Wisconsin) and I didn't bleed much initially. 

I was wearing bright orange!!!

Personally, I believe owning a firearm should be dependent on passing a weapons handling and proficiency test, as well as psychometric evalutation... I mean, when was the last time you saw a bright orange deer walking around on its hind legs?

Back to duck; I made a batch of ten legs and potted them up in a 3kg jar the other day... I'll stick a photo up in a minute or two.

edited to add photo...

gallery_17466_504_1105307226.jpg

There really are ten legs in this pot... the hand is there as a guide to size.

Edited by culinary bear (log)

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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For all we know you might have teeny tiny baby hands and that might be a jam jar.

...and I have, in fact, made confit budgies.

Seriously though, I've got quite small hands for someone that's 6'4".

For the pedantic otters amongst you, the jar is 24cm tall and has a circumference of 45cm. It weighs 4.1kg, according to the lovely digital scales I got for christmas (thanks, mum!) :)

Edited by culinary bear (log)

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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In a word, it is lovely! Or maybe that is loverly.

In any event, it is definitely drool-worthy.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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Back from the Utah ski trip and the confit was a huge success. I've cooked for this group for a few years and although they were skeptical when I suggested duck, everyone's plates and duck bones were clean at the end of the meal. I warmed them in a 200' oven for an hour and then broiled them to crisp the skin. Served with soft polenta with aged manchego cheese and 7 hour caramelized onion "jam" with my last block of demi and the gell from the duck. The duck's texture was as silky as I'd hoped. Great flavor as well.

I used about half the usual amount of fat with this method. I was concerned about leaving it in the bags for very long (like weeks) because of the juices still being in there. The legs I didn't take with me, I repacked off the juices. Any thoughts on the safety or "shelf life" of storing it in the vacuum bags with the juices in there?

edsel, I noticed you vacuum packed the salt and seasonings. I was afraid to do that for fear of overcuring the duck. I use my vacuum sealer when marinating to shorten the time. How did it turn out?

I was wondering how security would react to my carry on cooler with 18 duck legs and a 6.5# beef tenderloin, but I just got blank stares. Was happy they didn't make me open the cryovac - would have been a mess!

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Have we discussed the best method to get a crispy finished result? I find, given the uneven shape of the legs, that if I saute them, I only get parts which are crispy. And I'm reluctant to cook them in too hot an oven, because I don't want to ruin the fine texture of the flesh.

What is the preference round these parts?

"Gimme a pig's foot, and a bottle of beer..." Bessie Smith

Flickr Food

"111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321" Bruce Frigard 'Winesonoma' - RIP

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For those interested in making their own duck fat, here's a first cut from one who is at the absolute bottom of the learning curve. I checked a couple of places and found 7 oz duck fat from Balducci's for 4.99 (11.40/lb) and 2 lbs from Hudson Valley Foie Gras for 12.50, at which point I thought I'd take a shot at making my own.

Bought a fresh duck - Pekin I think, although I couldn't verify that - from the Korean market in Fairfax, 4.7 lbs for around 12.50. From that I removed two breast halves and two leg/thigh cuts which will be confit withing a few days. I had left the wings, back and miscellany which will go toward stock (haven't weighed them yet), and 1.15 lbs skin and fat to render. After a very slow rendering (600 BTU burner) for about 3 hours, this produced about 9 oz beautiful fat (~1-1/4 cups). The fat was a tad darker right out of the rendering pot than I expected, but is turning a lovely creamy pale yellow as it cools.

I suspect if I had trimmed a bit more aggressively, I could have ended up with another ounce or two of fat, but this was a first attempt. Still not enough to do much with, so I'll probably buy another duck this weekend :raz:.

Oh yeah, and the little skin cracklin's left from the rendering were the culinary equivalent of sex. And they last just about as long. I have no intention of ever sharing any of these with anyone, although my wife might be able to persuade me if she made just the right offer :hmmm:.

THW

"My only regret in life is that I did not drink more Champagne." John Maynard Keynes

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Back from the Utah ski trip and the confit was a huge success. I've cooked for this group for a few years and although they were skeptical when I suggested duck, everyone's plates and duck bones were clean at the end of the meal. I warmed them in a 200' oven for an hour and then broiled them to crisp the skin. Served with soft polenta with aged manchego cheese and 7 hour caramelized onion "jam" with my last block of demi and the gell from the duck. The duck's texture was as silky as I'd hoped. Great flavor as well.

(...) 

That sounds great! Not just the confit - the accompaniments as well.

I used about half the usual amount of fat with this method. I was concerned about leaving it in the bags for very long (like weeks) because of the juices still being in there. The legs I didn't take with me, I repacked off the juices. Any thoughts on the safety or "shelf life" of storing it in the vacuum bags with the juices in there?

edsel, I noticed you vacuum packed the salt and seasonings. I was afraid to do that for fear of overcuring the duck. I use my vacuum sealer when marinating to shorten the time. How did it turn out?

Vacuum-packing the duck with the marination ingredients is just a matter of convenience (and a bit of paranoia about cleanliness). As Nathan mentioned up-thread, there are special devices for quick marination under vacuum, but packing the duck in bags just means that there's no oxygen or other contaminants getting to the surface of the meat. The timing of the marination step is the same, as is the effect.

Nathan pointed out (quite correctly) that my previous attempt to combine the seasoning and cooking stages was doomed to failure (see here] ). This time, I used the full compliment of salt, spices, and herbs. Marination time was ~ 24 hours. I "massaged" the bags several times to make sure that the ingredients were well-distributed.

Like you, I'm a bit concerned about leaving the juices in the bag for long-term storage (and aging). I think the answer is to open the bags at the end of the cooking time. The juices and fat can be drained out and refrigerated to make it easier to separate them.

If you have a chamber machine, it would be possible to separate the (still warm) fat, pour it in a bag with the duck, and reseal it. This won't work with a clamp machine (FoodSaver) because liquid ingredients can't be vacuum sealed. A chamber machine solves that problem, but the price is too steep for most home cooks. Chilling the fat until it's solid would make it possible to seal it with an external machine, but the fat wouldn't get distributed properly. Maybe the simplest solution is to use the traditional jar storage like Allan uses. I'm still a bit wary of storing the confit at room temperature. Yeah, it's been done since forever but it still makes me nervous.

One concern with using the sous-vide technique is assuring that the food doesn't spend too much time in the "danger zone" temperature range. Too many cycles of cooling/heating can't be a good thing. Using an ice bath to drop the temp quick after cooking is a good idea.

I couldn't find any mention of your marination/seasoning. Did you follow Allan's recipe?

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I've been using the seasonings from "Foie Gras, Magret, and Other Good Food From Gascony" by Daguin for many years and this time as well. I like the combintion of flavors and would rather have the freedom to use adjuncts in sauces. I weight the legs during the seasoning.

The food danger zone is a good point - especially with the addition of the whole garlic cloves possible contamination. But at 180' F for so long I felt OK with the safety issue. In my food safety book, it lists heat sanitizing temps as 165' - 180' depending on the local health dept. I did not quick chill, thinking that with the vacuum pack, no new badness could be intoduced. Is that counter to my concerns about the juices for long term storage? I also notice that with my home vacuum seal that there are still air pockets in the pack. After the plane ride, even though I carried on the packs, they blew up like a pillow. And did not compress later, but I was staying at 8,000 ft. elevation.

Room temperature storage is scary to me as well. I have lots of refrigerator space.

Choose not to take the chance. Duck confit does not usually hang around too long at my house anyway. I do have some of an older batch that I did traditonaly stored in fat in my grandmother's bean crock and look forward to doing a comparison with the legs I saved from the vacuum method.

More later.....MKLynch

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Daddy-A and I are making confit this weekend and prep has already started. The legs are marinating as I type. I'm still having issues with the duck fat. I've ordered 4 lbs of raw fat that I will need to render; will this be enough for 10 legs, and approximately how long does it take to properly render? What colour should we be looking for and is it better to render the fat a day ahead and just have it ready to go?

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Have we discussed the best method to get a crispy finished result? I find, given the uneven shape of the legs, that if I saute them, I only get parts which are crispy. And I'm reluctant to cook them in too hot an oven, because I don't want to ruin the fine texture of the flesh.

What is the preference round these parts?

Moby, if I really want a crisp even result I take the skin off, salt it, place between two baking sheets and bake until set in shape before removing the top sheet and baking until crisp and brown. What you then have is a perfectly flat sheet of duck crackling.

Daddy-A and I are making confit this weekend and prep has already started. The legs are marinating as I type. I'm still having issues with the duck fat. I've ordered 4 lbs of raw fat that I will need to render; will this be enough for 10 legs, and approximately how long does it take to properly render? What colour should we be looking for and is it better to render the fat a day ahead and just have it ready to go?

Colour - white to pale-straw.

You should get enough fat from the 4lb of raw fat, but I can't give you any guarantees. As a guide, I used a shade under 4lb of rendered fat for the 10 duck legs I made at the beginning of this thread. You could probably get away with slightly less, especially if you took care to pack the duck intelligently.

I've always rendered on a lowish heat for a couple of hours; not a very scientific approach, I grant you. Probably best to render it the day before.

Good luck! :smile:

Edited by culinary bear (log)

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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I totally agree with culinary bear about the rendering except when I don't need cracklings, I puree all the skin in a food processor then melt it down with a few tablespoons of water in a slow oven or over low heat on top of the stove. Adding a few tablespoons of water will help keep the fat from overheating. You can remove it later on. If I want crackling, I just cut the skin itno small pieces.

Culinary bear: I followed your idea and cooked duck legs at 180 and they were terrific. Thanks so much for sharing.

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 totally agree with culinary bear about the rendering except when I don't need cracklings, I puree all the skin in a food processor then melt it down with a few tablespoons of water in a slow oven or over low heat on top of the stove. Adding a few tablespoons of water will help keep the fat from overheating. You can remove it later on. If I want crackling, I just cut the skin itno small pieces.

Culinary bear: I followed your idea and cooked duck legs at  180 and they were terrific. Thanks so much for sharing.

erm... erm... I don't quite know what to say - it's like being commended by Ghandi for your advice to him on non-violent protest.

I actually never thought about pureeing the fat and skin before rendering - usually (shamefully, one might say) i just detail the task to a commis with the instruction to chop until their hands are sore.

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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I've been using the seasonings from "Foie Gras, Magret, and Other Good Food From Gascony" by Daguin for many years and this time as well. 

Same here. Every time I follow that recipe I decide that it's too heavy on the cloves (in the quatre épices). But I always seem to forget by the next time. Oh well.

I'll try Allan's citrus-based flavorings some time soon. (flavourings?)

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I've been using the seasonings from "Foie Gras, Magret, and Other Good Food From Gascony" by Daguin for many years and this time as well. 

Same here. Every time I follow that recipe I decide that it's too heavy on the cloves (in the quatre épices). But I always seem to forget by the next time. Oh well.

I'll try Allan's citrus-based flavorings some time soon. (flavourings?)

flavo(u)rings; I'm bilingual... metric/imperial, american/other people... I tell you the fact that the US pint is only 4/5 the UK pint caused havoc for me until I realised.

I guess I've always added at least half a lemon to confit; the orange mellows it out somewhat, gives it a warmth. If you're worried about the slightly acidic undertone, then use the zest only.

Edited by culinary bear (log)

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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I just finished my first round of duck confit experiments sous vide.

180F for 11 hours was plenty in my test - good texture, and frankly it could have stopped sooner, at least for how I like the texture.

I tried Paula's salting ratio, 22 grams / lb of duck legs, which was fine.

I am quite skeptical about marinating with spices and aromatics (thyme, cloves, garlic etc.). Cooking with them in the sous vide bag certainly does have a result. Citrus would also have a very strong result. But very little flavor penetrates from just putting such things onto dry meat.

I also tried brining the legs - this is not traditional, but there is no reason not to do it. The action of the salt on the duck meat is the same either way. The brine that I used was a simple poultry brine - 4.5 grams salt per liter of water (16.5 grams per gallon) of diamond crystal salt, and the same amount of sugar. I let it sit for 12 hours in the brine - the same as the dry salted legs.

In retrospect, this was too long, or the brine too strong, because it is a bit too salty - not terrible but a bit too much. I will evaluate another sample in a few days. I was curious about the sugar since it is totally non-traditional, but many brines for poultry and pork have 50% to 100% (by weight) sugar to salt ratio. There was an effect on flavor, but not as strong as I would expect.

The main difference between brining and dry salting is that you would expect deeper penetration of the meat, shorter time (as I found out) and more even results.

I also did various experiments putting different aromatics in the bags. Another experiment was pure duck fat, versus other fats (duck fat with some canola oil, pure canola oil, butter). The traditional preparation may be best, but what the hell I thought I would try some variations.

but I have not opened them all, so the results will be posted later.

One post asks whether you can leave the legs in the fat and jelly in the bags. I have. There is no reason the jelly will hurt it (as long as refridegrated).

To remove from the vaccum bags, I slit the top and then pull the leg out while squeezing hard with my hand on the bag to leave the jelly and fat behind in the bag. I then take this from several bags, gently reheat to melt the fat and jelly and let it cool at which point the fat and jelly can be separated - you can do the upside down jar trick that culniary bear suggested (if you trust your jar!).

Nathan

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Excellent research, thank you!

I must admit, I never thought a simple post about confit duck would generate this sort of response; I'm heartened.

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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Colour - white to pale-straw.

OK, as mentioned above, mine turned out a noticeable yellow, not bright, but definitely not white or even pale straw. More a soft golden I guess I'd say. What am I doing wrong? TIA.

THW

"My only regret in life is that I did not drink more Champagne." John Maynard Keynes

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I've just completed one experiment with confit and have second about to start.

Batch 1

Six Barbary duck legs marinated in coarse salt, thyme, garlic, juniper berries, bay leaf and the lemon and orange as per CB's initial post (I was curious) for 16 hours. Actually didn't have enough duck fat, and wound up topping off the pot with goose fat; cooked everything in the oven at about 80ºC/175ºF for 7 hours.

Legs were starting to fall apart at this point (a tad bit too far along for me), but I noticed that there's considerably more meat juices/jelly produced than for other batches of confit that I've made. The picked meat was adequate to pack two 500 mL mason jars and have started their aging process.

Caveat 1: for me, goose fat was not such as great idea. There's a decided waxy smell to the fat which masks that nice duck smell. :sad:

Caveat 2: my beautiful creamy white fat is now a pale orange color. First time ever, though I can't bring myself to accept that one orange had enough pigment extracted to do this.

Batch 2

Four Pékin (Brome Lake) duck legs marinated in the same salt/aromatics mix (without the citrus) for 12 hours. I decided not to use the orange fat (color, smell) and rendered fat from the two ducks the legs came from.

I was curious enough about sous-vide, so I borrowed a friend's FoodSaver. There's been considerable talk about sealing liquids but since this was the start of cooking, I chilled down the rendered fat until it was quite solid and cut butter patty-size chunks to stick into the bag with the duck and aromatics (about 8 patties/leg). The fat has softened enough that I've been able to work it around all of the leg.

Next step - cooking. They're supposed to go into an 80ºC circulating water bath some time in the next 20 minutes. Let's see what happens 6 hours from then.

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Do others have the same reaction to goose fat that wattacetti did? The "waxy" smell doesn't sound too appealing. Also, I think that 80ºC/175ºF for 7 hours may be a bit long, though I've never cooked with Barbary duck. The 80ºC / 6 hour combo you're using for the Pékin legs sounds about right. I cooked my Moulard legs longer, but they generally require longer cooking than "Long Island" (Pékin). Paula Wolfert posted some guidelines up-thread.

I was curious enough about sous-vide, so I borrowed a friend's FoodSaver. There's been considerable talk about sealing liquids but since this was the start of cooking, I chilled down the rendered fat until it was quite solid and cut butter patty-size chunks to stick into the bag with the duck and aromatics (about 8 patties/leg). The fat has softened enough that I've been able to work it around all of the leg.

That's exactly the technique required for incorporating liquids in the bag when using a clamp machine. Fats need to be well-chilled, and liquids need to be frozen, to prevent them gumming up the works. After the bag is sealed you can warm things up to distribute the liquids.

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Also, I think that 80ºC/175ºF for 7 hours may be a bit long, though I've never cooked with Barbary duck. The 80ºC / 6 hour combo you're using for the Pékin legs sounds about right.

The Barbary legs were slightly larger and distinctly denser to the touch than the Pékin legs but they are definitely not as large as the moulards. If I do it again, I'd probably cut back by perhaps 30 minutes

I'm having a slight problem sourcing moulards but I think there was a thread in the Montreal forum a while back, so it's time to look.

As for the sous-vide experiment, it won't start before noon; they need the waterbath for something else. Since they're graciously letting me use it, I guess I can wait.

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undefinedAlso, I think that 80ºC/175ºF for 7 hours may be a bit long, though I've never cooked with Barbary duck. The 80ºC / 6 hour combo you're using for the Pékin legs sounds about right. I cooked my Moulard legs longer, but they generally require longer cooking than "Long Island" (Pékin).

Up until yesterday, I would agree with you completely. That is until I received a six-pack of moulards from preferredmeats.com. Each moulard duck leg weighed between 13 and 14 ounces.

I packed three of the legs in a foodsaver pack and set them in water heated to 180 degrees and cooked them at that temperature.

I poached the remaining three in duck fat heated to 180 degress as well.

Both containers were put in the same oven. I had some fluctuation in oven heat; it took 11 hours to arrive at the toothsome texture I love without the flesh falling apart. Just as mnathan suggested.

The texture of the sous vide was superior, especially the skin which was silky! The flavor of the fat-cooked legs was better.

There was a lot of water in my food saver packet, so I dumped it out. Didn't repack in food saver but decided to store the sous-vide cooked legs separately in fat to improve flavor. The best of both worlds.

I'll let you know in three weeks. I think a little aging is necessary for a true test of confit. Otherwise it is nothing but poached duck leg. Am I wrong?

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 am not surprised by the orange fat. When you cook things in a sous vide bag, the various aromatics you put in the bag become extremely concentrated. There is literally nowhere for the volatile flavor and smell compounds to go. In conventional braising they evaporate into the room that is what makes the smell you get in the oven, room etc.

So, one of the rules in sous vide is that you have to be very careful about aromatics and seasonings.

If you tried the same thing with orange zest in a sous vide bag with a neutral oil, for that many hours, you would get an orange oil extract. Indeed poaching oil at low temperature with zest is used in many recipes to make a citrus oil. So, thisi s what I think happened to your fat.

It is possible that this also contributes to the waxy smell you report. Goose fat should not be a problem at all - in fact confit d'oie - confit of goose leg - is a traditional preparation in France. Personally I like it as much or better than duck confit.

Nathan

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