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Magic in Nature

The Duck

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Remember a while back when I said I was going to talk about yummy, tasty duck confit? Well here I am talking about it. Sometimes I just need to make things and that's what I've been doing instead of posting around here. Some of what I've been making involves duck. IMG_2341 We've made two batches of duck confit this winter. One just after Thanksgiving and another at the end of January. It's an easy process and then you have the meat, fat, jelly and bones for broth for a good long time. I feel like I should have posted this a few weeks ago for my east coast friends. We love having this in the fridge for those days (weeks) where we feel snow bound and/or just don't want to drive down the hill to go shopping. Not that I know what that feels like this year, but it is nice when we come to the end of the week and don't have much in the cupboards. What you see in the photo above is the raw duck legs being covered in fat ready to go into the oven. My favorite recipe is from Thomas Keller's Bouchon cookbook . You create a green salt (lots of herbs blended with salt) and pack the legs with it for 24 hours. After rinsing that off you cover the legs with previously rendered fat and cook them at a very low temperature in the oven for ten hours. I now have a new oven that doesn't get below 275 degrees so I had to cart my pan of fat covered legs over to my in-laws for a long bake at 175. Once out of the oven the legs stay under the fat until you are ready to eat them. The combination of the salt and the fat preserves the legs for a good long time.

Today we enjoyed a wonderful crispy duck salad with wild garden weeds for lunch IMG_2414 I made this confit on January 29th. That batch was made especially for these incredible tamales one of our Gino's cooks made for the annual Super Bowl/Employee party at the restaurant. IMG_2379 some of the fat was mixed into the masa which made these amazingly flavorful! Another salad variation IMG_2246 and a delicate soup made with some of the jelly found under the meat. That jelly is full of the flavors of that original green salt rub. IMG_2195

You can use the meat for tacos or have a leg on its own over polenta. The jelly is great to add by the tablespoon to a dish you feel just needs an extra something; and let us not forget the incredible flavor of potatoes roasted in duck fat.

So if you are a wee bit chilly this winter season, and you can get down your driveway, go find a butcher to order up some legs and duck fat.

I would add that confit means to cook in fat, so tuna that is poached in olive oil in the same manner lasts as long (and is wonderful for a whole slew of other recipes). How about garlic confit (tasty and very good for you). This is a great preservation technique, but it also gives you intense flavor. Wonderful at this end of winter. We realized today that we are ready to take that step into spring. Enjoying duck with the greens was really tasty, but our bodies are starting to crave the flavors of spring...almost time for those tonic herbs.