Duck is a an under-appreciated meat, at least here in North America. People often think it’s hard to cook or it has too much fat or both. If you want to try cooking some duck, I suggest starting with duck legs, now found packaged apart from the rest of the duck. If you’re good at butchering, buy a whole duck and cut up pieces and used accordingly.
Ducks have fat but so do many other animals and it’s a pity to trim/cut and throw away duck fat. In the case of duck legs, you’re using it to cook and break down the meat. The fat melts away and the meat gently poaches in the fat. This cooking method is called “confit”, it comes from the Gascony region of France and surely all of Gaulle loves duck confit and gourmands around the world love it.
What could be better than succulent, flavourful duck meat that falls off the bone? Today, I offer you a short cut method that works and even though it still takes a couple of hours, it’s still quicker than the traditional method.
The flavours here are orange zest, garlic, olive oil, thyme and rosemary and obviously salt and pepper. The accompanying side to the duck confit are Gigantes, Greek elephant beans that are simmered until tender then baked in the oven with aromatics, tomato sauce and herbs.
The winter evening arrives quick and the nipping cold makes it an easy case for staying indoors. The kitchen beckons, the soul wants some comfort food and I’m serving up Duck Confit with Beans.Duck Confit With Fassoulada Beans
For the beans
1 cup of small dry (white) navy beans
1 stalk of celery, halved lengthwise then cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 carrot, halved then cut into 1/2 inch pieces on a bias
2 medium onions, diced
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup of pomodoro or tomato puree (passata)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tsp. of smoked paprika
1 smoked sausage, sliced
4 duck legs (thighs attached)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, minced
zest of 1 orange
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
10-12 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 tsp. of fresh rosemary leaves
1 1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. fresh ground pepper
Pre-heated 300F oven
- Place your beans in a pot and add 4 cups of water, allow to soak overnight. Drain and place in a pot with another 3 cups of water, the onions, carrots, celery and bay leaves and bring up to a boil them cover and simmer for approx. 90 minutes or until beans are soft.
- Strain the beans and vegetables and reserve the water (discard bay leaves. Place the beans and cooked vegetables in a baking dish with tomato sauce, olive oil, paprika, salt and enough of the reserved bean broth to just cover the beans.
- Fry off the slice sausage in a pan with some oil and reserve.
- Add salt and pepper to taste, place the sausage slices on the beans and place uncovered in a pre-heated 350F oven 30 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed. Take out of the oven, keep warm or allow to cool and reheat when duck is ready to be served.
- Place your duck legs in a deep baking dish that will snugly fit them all in. Drizzle with oil and the garlic, zest, allspice, thyme and rosemary leaves and rub into the duck until evenly covered over the meat.
- Now season both sides of the duck with salt and pepper and arrange in your baking dish. Pour about 2 Tbsp. of water into the corner of the dish and cover with foil. Place in your pre-heated oven and bake for 90 minutes. Take out of the oven and check to see if the meat bone is exposed from the leg (if not place in the oven for another 20 minutes).
- Once you see the bone is exposed on the leg, remove the foil, turn the heat up to 350F and bake uncovered for 30 minutes or until the skins is golden and crisp. Take out of the oven and allow to cool in the duck fat for five minutes (if serving immediately) or allow to cool completely in the fat.
- If serving the duck confit later, store in a container with the duck fat covering it. When you want to reheat the duck, simply return the duck to room temperature and pre-heat your oven to 400F. Cover the duck legs with some duck fat (or olive oil) and bake for 15 minutes or until crisp. For stove-top, add a little duck fat to your pan over medium heat for 4-5 minutes/side.
- Serve on a bed of warm beans and pair with Kir Yianni Two Olives.