Confit, from the French verb confire, to preserve, is a traditional means of cooking meat slowly in its own fat. Although you may not have access to a whole foie gras duck for rendering, you can create a deeply flavorful confit with good-quality duck pieces and rendered fat bought from a trusted butcher. Adjust the salt and cooking time to reflect the size of the duck parts, using an amount of coarse sea salt equal to 3 percent of the duck legs' weight to cure them—about 1 tablespoon of salt per pound.
What You Will Need
- 4 large duck legs (about 3½ lb.)
- 1⁄4 cup (1⅔ oz.) coarse sea salt
- 4 lb. rendered duck fat
Rub each piece of duck all over with around 1 tablespoon of salt. Place in a bowl or pan skin side down. Cover and refrigerate 8–12 hours.
Use a dry kitchen towel to lightly brush off any excess salt. Set the legs aside to come up to room temperature.
Meanwhile, in a large, heavy stainless-steel or enameled cast-iron pan, melt the fat over medium-high heat until it reaches a gentle simmer (an instant-read thermometer should read 175–200°). Place the duck legs in the fat, skin side down, and continue cooking until the fat returns to temperature. Lower the heat to maintain this temperature and cook just until the meat starts to shrink away from the bone and the juices run clear when pierced with a long wooden skewer, about 2½ hours.
Using tongs or a large slotted spoon, carefully transfer the duck pieces either individually or together to a large glass jar or terrine mold. Strain the fat back over the duck pieces, covering them completely. Let cool to room temperature, then cover with a lid or plastic wrap.
Refrigerate the duck pieces (the fat will solidify, protecting and preserving the duck). Use the meat immediately or ideally let age 2–4 weeks. Store up to 3–4 months in the refrigerator.