I can't remember the last time I ate confit of duck, it's just not something that comes to mind of a Monday night. Imagine my suprise when we were invited to friends for dinner on Friday and the menu was duck confit, preserved and brought all the way from France. Saturday was a birthday pop up with no choice of menu; duck confit it was!
I'm certainly not grizzling, rich duck, rendered and cooked gloriously slowly in it's own fat is only going to be good. I was reminded of this recipe I wrote for my book, beautifully easy and perhaps slightly easier on the thighs than a traditional version.
BRAISED DUCK LEGS WITH JUNIPER & GINGER
We buy chicken legs without too much thought but duck legs, without good reason seem a little more daunting. This intimidation is an urban myth, an old wives tale and conspiracy theory all rolled into one. Please find below one of the easiest recipes in the whole book, seriously, it can be prepared in moments and then the hard work is left to the oven. I’ve served the finished dish a number of ways so put your own stance on the recipe and choose if you’d like it hot or cold, in a sandwich or heaped on a salad.
Prep Time – 10-15 minutes
Cook Time – 2 hours plus cooling
4 large carrots, scrubbed and roughly chopped into roughly 1 cm cubes
5 sticks celery, diced into 1cm cubes
2 large onions, peeled and chopped roughly chopped
6 cloves garlic, peeled and finely sliced
6 cm knob of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
2 tsp juniper berries, finely chopped (available at good supermarkets)
Juice and zest of 1 orange
A glug of vegetable oil
4 duck legs, skin on
2 tsp zatar (optional)
4-5 spring onions
1/ Preheat the oven to 180C, Fan 160C gas mark 4.
2/ Put all the chopped vegetables, ginger and juniper berries in the bottom of a shallow casserole dish and drizzle with a good glug of vegetable oil and the fresh orange juice. Toss everything to make sure it sees the oil.
3/ Lay the duck legs over the vegetables and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the zatar over each leg. Now you’ve done the hard work – simply pop in the oven, uncovered, for 1 ½ - 2 hours depending on the size of your duck legs. The dish is done when the flesh can be pulled away from the bone with the touch of a fork.
4/ Remove from the oven and admire your work. Allow to cool for a few minutes before removing the meat from the legs using 2 forks as a means of attack. Shred the duck and skin and return to your pot.
5/ Tumble everything together with the fresh spring onion, check for seasoning and serve with a light green salad or in a roll for the ultimate sandwich.
Cook’s Note – Take a moment to smell the juniper berries and inhale your gin fix without the need for tonic.
Zatatar is a wonderful spice mix including oregano, marjoram, toasted sesame seeds and salt. Its available at most big supermarkets and is worth seeking out.