Saturday, February 05, 2011

Duck Confit

There are many ways to put duck on your menu, the most popular being duck breast, followed by the much heralded roasted half duck.  We've done both, but the breast has more universal appeal.  You can purchase just the breasts, which saves a lot of labor, but returns none of the  useful byproducts you get when you buy the whole bird to put the breast on your menu.  That's what Kevin does.  He gets cases of fresh Pekin ducks from Chef's Warehouse every week, which he breaks down himself.  The breasts are removed, trimmed and scored for roasting to order.  He confits the legs, which we shall see in the pictures below.  They are basically "boiled in their own pudding" - that is, braised in their own fat.  Kevin grinds up the excess skin from the duck bodies and renders the fat from it, which he uses to confit the legs, and sometimes the gizzards and hearts as well.  (He used those, along with the wings, to make the duck scrapple this week.) The duck fat, besides being the preservative for the legs, is also one of the best results of using the whole duck - the lines of people waiting for Hot Doug's Duck Fat Fries in Chicago each weekend is testimony to that!

 After their long braise in the hot fat, the legs are seared in a pan and then roasted in the oven which crisps up the skin and renders out any remaining fat.  Placed sizzling on a bed of fresh spinach, they are garnished with some caramelized shallots and sent out to the hungry diner.  So good.  And not something most people would try to make at home - that's what restaurants are for!

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