Monday, July 25, 2011
How do you say I love you? I'd imagine a lot of you say I love you with food. Just like I do. Used to be when a friend had a baby and now it's more likely when a friend has a hip replacement or other major surgery, I take over a bunch of meals. Or, like this past week when Auntie Deb lost her fiance. Instead of using my "spare" time blogging, it went to cooking. Lots of cooking. Thomas was the primary cook in their family. Deb works two jobs and is still recouping from an incredibly nasty fall last February. She shattered a good part of her left arm. Now, I've got about 30 meals ready for her to pop in the oven or microwave when she gets home from work. Like the rest of her family, she's a pretty picky eater so I kept it to basics: chicken green bean casserole, sloppy joes, meatloaf, white chili, spaghetti sauce, chicken and noodles. I've got my fingers crossed that she'll like all of that. We went to the funeral this weekend knowing that we've done something to help out. And, she knows we love her.
In between, we headed to Columbus, OH to see my stepson David and his family. You'll hear more about that trip over the next couple of days.
That, my friends is why I've been a bit scarce recently.
Now, I want to share with you duck confit. The first time I used it I thought it was something very complicated. I'd never make my own cassoulet because making duck confit sounded so incredibly intimidating. Last weekend I unlocked the mystery. It's super easy to make. Connie's asked for duck ragu for a Sunday evening meal - the evening we typically do something complicated.
During our regular Saturday shopping expedition we went to Goose the Market to pick up duck confit. They didn't have any in the case or in storage. Chris even checked in his personal stash upstairs. Nada. So, we bought duck legs and duck fat and made our own. Chris said to cover the duck with kosher salt and put it in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours then to cook it on the stove top, in the oven or in a slow cooker at 180 for 12 hours.
I knew I'd seen a recipe for duck confit in Heartland so I checked that when we got home. That recipe called for rubbing the duck legs with salt then topping them with pepper, garlic, thyme and bay leaves and putting them in a covered dish in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. Then, you're to wipe the salt off, brown the duck and cook it on high in the slow cooker for two hours.
Hmmm, the recipes sounded pretty different. No surprise here, I decided to combine the best of both.
4 duck legs with thighs
1/3 c coarse kosher or sea salt
2 t freshly ground black pepper
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
4 large sprigs thyme
4 bay leaves
1 c duck fat
Rub the duck legs with salt. Put them in a glass baking dish. Sprinkle them with the pepper. Lay the garlic slices, thyme and bay leaves on the duck. Cover and refrigerate for 2-3 days. Now, you've got a choice. You can brown the duck legs or not. I chose not to. In Heartland, the recipe calls for using two cups of canola oil for cooking the duck legs. Chris typically uses duck fat. So, because I've bought my duck confit from Chris, I chose to use duck fat.
Lay the duck legs in the bottom of a slow cooker. Dollop on the duck fat. Cover the slow cooker and cook on low for 12 hours. Remove the duck confit and put each leg into a separate freezer bag. Divide the duck fat between the bags. Either use within a couple of weeks or freeze until ready to use.