Duck Variations: Sous Vide Confit

November 23, 2011 · 8 comments

Duck Rillettes

So many duck legs, so many possibilities… I had a dozen legs left following the completion of another duck-related project, it’s been cold outside, and I had a craving for more confit. What I didn’t have was a lot of duck fat or room to store a huge container of confited duck legs, so I searched for a different preparation method, which I found in Modernist Cuisine.

I began with the curing method from the Bouchon cookbook: “green salt” made from kosher salt, thyme, bay leaves, parsley, and black peppercorns.

After a day in the fridge, I rinsed and dried the legs, placed three each in vacuum bags, added about a quarter cup of duck fat (dished out with an ice cream scoop), then sealed them shut.

I cooked the legs in a 82°C water bath for eight hours.

When the legs were cooked I dunked them in an ice bath to cool them down for storage. The fat and cooking liquid solidified, making the bags very easy to handle.

The beauty of this method is how little fat is required to cook or store the duck. The bags lie flat, which makes them easy to fit in an overcrowded fridge (and the Deep Storage Facility is bursting with in-progress holiday cooking projects).

I was eager to make something with part of my new confit stash. I warmed up one of the bags by dunking it in 80°C water for twenty minutes. I cut a hole in the corner of the bag and drained the liquid into a gravy seprator, then let the legs cool slightly so I could remove the skin.

The skin slid right off the warmed legs, and the bones slid out easily. All I had to do was shred the meat and add the rendered fat and cooking liquid, which measured out to about a quarter cup each. I gave everything a quick spin in my stand mixer, adding some extra ground black pepper – instant rillettes.

I portioned out the rillettes into jars and layered the last bit of fat over the tops.

It’s unlikely I’l ever go back to the old confit method. I won’t have to deal with digging portions out of a large container full of fat. I won’t have to worry about storage space, and I won’t have to buy huge buckets of duck fat. Well, not nearly as often; there’s still duck fat fries, duck fat focaccia, and other goodies that will require me to maintain a supply.

Duck Variations: Sous Vide Confit on Punk Domestics

8 comments

Swain November 23, 2011 at 6:24 pm

Cool method. The only change I would suggest is 65c for 12-24 hours. The lower and slower make for a more tender meat. Over 80c you might as well put them in the oven.

David November 24, 2011 at 12:01 am

But the oven would require my using a lot more fat.

Dan December 10, 2011 at 2:15 pm

A friend from work gave me two small Teal ducks he bagged a few weeks ago, and after reading your post, I plan to sous vide confit them this weekend. Genius technique.

David December 10, 2011 at 3:07 pm

Let me know how it turns out.

Tony Stefan December 12, 2011 at 12:48 pm

this is the shiznit. have you tried roasting the confit legs, and if so does the skin get crispy?

David December 14, 2011 at 7:35 pm

Fo’ shizzle. Roasting not required, just drop the legs i a hot pan and the skin crisps right up.

James G January 2, 2012 at 3:59 am

I have been making my confit duck legs this way for some time now, always to great acclaim. I have been doing 82.4C for 5 hours, but it might be worth trying the lower temp for longer. What is the practical difference between cooking them at 65C for 24 vs 12 hours?

David January 4, 2012 at 4:55 pm

I picked 24 hours because I wasn’t sure the legs would be properly rendered after 12 hours. Also, given my usual schedule, it’s easier to start the process in the evening to have ready for dinner the next day.

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