Cheats spiced duck confit (reduced fat & salt recipe)

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I’ve been meaning to pop this recipe into the blog for a wee while. It is one of those recipes you have to plan to make a little bit in advance just to source yourself some duck legs and make sure you have enough time at home to hang around with the oven on. I think its pretty achievable if you’re a stay at home mum (and things aren’t too hectic!) or working from home. The salting process the day before means that you’ve got dinner already sorted for the next day! I like to have a little bit of organisation in my life sometimes. 😉

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When ever I go out for dinner I’m a real sucker for three types of menu options: pate/terrines, confit duck, and absolutely anything containing truffle. I’ve set myself some rules that I have to try the “weird” thing on the menu, or just something I haven’t tried before. It works pretty well and I can’t say I’ve been disappointed. Sometimes I’ll get the weird thing as well as the pate or make the bf share if I just can’t resist!

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Salting process, skin up view

I’m not saying that this is a completely healthy recipe as you can see that you leave the skin on the duck legs which of course is high in fat. In a traditional duck confit recipe, after curing the legs you then submerge in melted low temperature duck fat. So you are essentially cooking the legs very slowly in fat. Another method that is now used in restaurants is to vacuum pack the cured legs with your spices and a little extra duck fat and cook sous-vide or in a steam oven at a low temperature overnight.

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Salting process, skin down view

I’m not going to bother with much of that hassle. At home I don’t have that equipment so I’ve gone for a cheats version which in my opinion still tastes bloody amaze-balls. I cured the legs overnight in less salt (so I didn’t have to wash it off with all the yummy spices), then I seared the legs in a very hot non-stick frying pan until the skin was golden brown (as much colour as I could achieve without too much cooking). Then I placed the legs in an oven dish and roasted, nice and slowly. Finally after cooking, I quickly (and gently) seared again so the skin was extra crispy. So all fat came inherently from the legs themselves. An improvement I think. If it all sounds confusing, hopefully the recipe will speak a little clearer.

Seared legs baking in the oven. As you can see they release a lot of fat during the searing and roasting process.

Seared legs baking in the oven. As you can see they release a lot of fat during the searing and roasting process.

Spiced duck confit  (serves 2) 

Recipe can easily be doubled for 4 people +, just multiply ingredients and aim for 1 leg per person.

1/2 Tbsp coarse sea salt

2 bay leaves, crushed into small pieces

1 Tbsp star anise seeds (not pods)

1 Tbsp coriander seeds

Few grinds black pepper

2 Duck legs, whole, skin intact

Method:

  1. Begin by preparing the salt rub. Combine the salt, crushed bay leaves, black pepper, star anise and coriander seeds in a small bowl. Toss to combine.
  2. Lay the duck legs on a flat plate and sprinkle the salt rub evenly over both sides of the legs.
  3. Place the legs into a ziplock bag or container along with any loose salt rub. Seal and place flat in the refrigerator for 1 day.
  4. Once the legs have cured, preheat your oven to 130 degrees Celsius. Heat a non-stick frying pan over high heat.
  5. Place the legs into the frying pan, skin side down and fry quickly until the skin crisps up. (It is difficult to get this done evenly because of the shape of the leg, the main purpose is just to render down the fat a little)
  6. Place the legs (skin side up) and any loose spice mix in to a small flat baking dish. Using a spatula, scrape out any fat which is remaining in the frying pan, over the legs. Cover with aluminium foil.
  7. Place the baking dish with the legs in the centre of the oven and roast for 3 hours.
  8. At this point, if you turn the legs over, the meat should be soft and falling off the bone, but the leg should still be holding it’s shape.
  9. You can now crisp up the skin by either frying the legs again (skin side down) in the frying pan, or removing the aluminium foil and roasting the legs at 200 degrees Celsius until the skin is just crunchy. The risk with roasting is that the meat is more likely to become dry.
  10. Once the skin is crispy, you’re ready to serve! I served mine with savoy cabbage pancakes, poached quinces (see condiments section) and a side of salad. Deeelicious!

I hope you enjoy it!