Confit - The Kaleberg Variation

The major points of difference between Dany's confit recipe and ours are:

  1. We usually make either two or four ducks at a time. We skin each duck and use the parts as follows:
    the skin we cut it into thin 1/4 to 1/2 inch strips and render them in a slow oven (250F-300F) to get the fat we need for preserving the ducks; use a real sharp knife and sharpen it at least once per duck
    the breast meat and legs these are the parts we confit; we leave some of the skin on the legs and breasts
    the liver we cook these up with confit spice and corn kernels, a dish of our own based loosely on one of Dany's
    the heart and gizards we confit these with the meat, but you might want to process them separately as a confit de gezier, a great confit in its own right
    the wings, the neck and the rest of the carcass we use these for stock; just boil them up in a big pot full of water for an hour or two; you can make a great gumbo ya-ya, like the one at the Ivy in LA using this stock
  2. We use a more complex mix of herbs and spices. We make up a big batch and store it in a spice or mustard jar. We use about 1 tbsp of spice mix per duck. The mix is as follows:
     1 tsp ground cumin 1 tsp ground coriander seeds (not the fresh parsley like herb)
    1 tsp ground cinnamon 3/4 tsp ground allspice (or even a bit more)
    1/4 tsp ground clove 1/2 tsp cardomon
    1/2 tsp ground ginger 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
    1 Turkish bay leaf, crumpled or ground 3/4 tsp dried thyme leaf (or powdered thyme)
  3. We also use a whole head of garlic for every two ducks, but you can use more or less, but you MUST use some garlic.
  4. We weigh the breasts and legs and use 1/3 ounce of salt (you can use regular table salt, but do use NaCl) per pound of meat. You use can less this if you only plan on keeping the confit a few weeks, but we use the whole dose. No, it is not too salty.
  5. We rub the duck meat and garlic with the salt, herbs and spices and let it sit for from 24 to 36 hours. You do have some margin here. The purpose of the salt is to draw water out of the meat. The garlic, herbs and spices flavor it.
  6. We cook the confit in the oven at 250F-300F in the oven, rather than on the stove top. Make sure you cover the meat with enough fat to cover it. It is important to rub off the marination mixture (or wash it off and then dry the duck) before cooking it.
  7. We store our confit in one of those big jars (two quart or so) with a rubber seal and wire hinge. Basically, you can use any airtight container that can handle the heat of the duck and fat you pour in. As noted in Dany's recipe, the trick is to cover all of the duck meat is not exposed to air. If you are a real purist, you can top off the duck fat (once it has hardened) with a layer of eau d'vie.
  8. We usually start our confit several weeks before making our cassoulet. Dany's recipe is for a quick confit and while delicious, is not as good as one aged a bit more.

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