"I can see meself now, strollin' across the fields, me dog at me side, bringing a brace of coneys home for the wife to make some rillettes.."
"That's not quite what I was thinking about."
As I was saying. One of the joys of M. Brown's website is the opportunity to discuss recipes with men. Not "here's a bowl, here's some chips, open, pour, serve" recipes, ladies. I speak of the actual process of preparing food for actual enjoyment through a process that involves heat, sharp implements and fine ingredients.
"I enjoy chips in a bowl."
A recent discussion Chez Brown concerned that most perfect of foods, duck confit. It is my belief that you, dear ack/nak reader, might be interested in such a recipe.
"Do you serve it in a bowl?"
"Don't make me come over there."
There are many ways to prepare moderately good duck confit, but most wonderful ways involve letting the duck sit overnight in an herb-infused salt rub and then a full work day in the oven, bubbling away gently in its own fat.
Our preferred recipe is a variant of Emeril's with Thomas Keller's salt rub formula (as described in his book Bouchon). It is possible to pull of a decent confit faster - Our Friend Mr. Brown managed it - but a longer cook time produces a more tender result.
Duck Confit a la Bob
Procure 2 fresh ducks and process into:
4 duck leg portions with thighs attached, (about 2 pounds) excess fat trimmed and reserved
2 duck breasts, split down the keel bone, excess fat trimmed and reserved
1 tablespoon plus 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
10 garlic cloves
4 bay leaves
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon table salt
4 cups olive oil
Lay the leg portions on a platter, skin side down. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of the kosher salt and the black pepper. Place the garlic cloves, bay leaves, and sprigs of thyme on each of 2 leg portions. Lay the remaining 2 leg portions, flesh to flesh, on top. Put the reserved fat from the ducks in the bottom of a glass or plastic container. Top with the sandwiched leg portions. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt. Cover and refrigerate for 12 hours.
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F.
Remove the duck from the refrigerator. Remove the garlic, bay leaves, thyme, and duck fat and reserve. Rinse the duck with cool water, rubbing off some of the salt and pepper. Pat dry with paper towels.
Put the reserved garlic, bay leaves, thyme, and duck fat in the bottom of an enameled cast iron pot. Sprinkle evenly with the peppercorns and table salt. Lay the duck on top, skin side down. Add the olive oil. Cover and bake for 8 to 12 hours, or until the meat pulls away from the bone. You'll know when it's done. Whatever you do, don't let it go too long, as it will become something you'll rather not eat, but you'll feel you have to, and it will have the deep, lingering taste of Regret.
Remove the duck from the fat. Strain the fat and reserve. To store the duck confit, place the duck leg portions in a container, cover with the reserved cooking fat, and store in the refrigerator. Alternately, pick the meat from the bones and place it in a stoneware container. Cover the meat with a thin layer of some of the strained fat. The duck confit can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.
Now go make some.