Get a head start on Christmas with this meal
NEED a head start on Christmas lunch? This year my family will be served duck confit, a French classic that can be prepared weeks ahead and finished off on the day of serving.
Minimal effort at a busy time, plus if you like duck, the legs or Marylands are extremely economical (much cheaper than the breast meat).
Confit is cured overnight in a salt/spice blend, then slow-cooked in duck fat for several hours. You then put the cooked portions into a container and cover them completely with the same duck fat and store, covered, in the fridge for up to a month.
When time comes to serve, you crisp the skin in a frypan and quickly finish the duck in a hot oven; that process takes only around 30 minutes. You can then serve it with a sauce of your choice which can also be made ahead of time and voila! A restaurant-quality meal fit for a celebration at any time of year. My favourite sauce is a simple one made with orange juice, a little stock and marmalade, reduced until sticky, or a sweet/sour puree of rhubarb cooked with orange juice and a little honey.
- 4 juniper berries.
- 2 teaspoons of salt.
- 1/2 teaspoon of coriander seed.
- 4 duck Marylands or 8 duck legs.
- 2 bay leaves.
- 1 teaspoon of black peppercorns.
- About 2 cups duck fat.
- Crush juniper berries, salt and coriander seeds using a mortar and pestle or grind in a spice grinder.
- Dry duck pieces with paper towel and rub with salt mixture; place in a glass or ceramic dish and cover with foil. Refrigerate overnight.
- Preheat oven to 130°C.
- Briefly rinse salt mixture from duck under the tap and pat dry.
- Place in an enamelled cast-iron pot or casserole dish with the bay leaves and peppercorns.
- Add duck fat to cover and cook for 3 1/2 hours (for Marylands) or 3 hours (for legs).
- Carefully remove duck from the fat and place in a container with an airtight lid.
- Cover with the fat and seal; refrigerate for up to four weeks.
- Preheat oven to 220°C.
- Remove duck from the fat, scraping away as much as possible (you can strain the fat and freeze it; reuse it over and over).
- Heat a heavy frypan over high heat and cook duck pieces, skin side down, for 5 minutes, then transfer to the oven for 25 minutes or until golden and crisp.
- Serve immediately with a sauce of your choice.
Serves - 4