Delicious duck confit can be made in advance of the big day.
Delicious duck confit can be made in advance of the big day.

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.

INGREDIENTS

  • 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.

METHOD

  • 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.

TO SERVE

  • 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


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