Duck Confit

It’s always this weather that urges me to re-stock the larder. After a month of festive eating, I want to load up the kitchen with practical foods that will help us through these last dreary months of winter. A pantry full of delightful treats that will emerge as the year progresses. There is some wonderful organic duck available from Gill Wing Farm in Sussex.

I had my first Canard à l’Orange in Normandy during our one rather painful family holiday. I remember thinking how sophisticated I was, enjoying this delight. Because Seville oranges are still around they are ideal companions. The sourness of these oranges makes the Duck skin pucker up when left to marinade and thus delightfully crispy when roasted. Take a knife down the back and carefully remove the breasts. Score the skin lightly. Slice two of the oranges and place them under the duck in a nice tight dish. In a pestle and mortar bring together about four large garlic cloves, salt, peppercorns, bay leaves, marjoram and thyme. Remove half of this mixture and set aside. To the rest add the orange rind and juice. Smear this over the skin of the breasts, cover and leave in the fridge for a couple of days.  Next remove the legs from the carcass, taking with it as much meat from around the thigh joint as possible. Rub the skin with rock salt and then smear the garlicky herb mixture all over them and also leave in the fridge for 2 days.

Roast the carcass. You should find that enough fat comes off this to make your confit. Pour off and leave in the fridge until you need it. Throw the carcass into your big pan with some more veg and simmer for a couple of hours. More stock for the freezer.

After the two days are up, clean the paste off the legs and pour over the melted duck fat to cover them completely. Cook for 2 hours in a medium oven. When done, put the legs into a jar and cover in the fat. They’ll keep for ever and some day when you need that cheering up, you have something special right there. You might buy two duck and confit four legs and two breasts for a party later in the year. I usually make Salade Chatelaine in October, as a last farewell to summer. It’s excessively rich with foie gras and langoustines.

Of course you haven’t actually eaten any of this duck yet so remove the orange slices from the dish with breasts and roast them quickly in the marinade for about 15 minutes. Remove the lovely juices into a pan with the slices and saute til you have a meaty, sticky gravy and pour it over the duck. Serve with something like a chicory and walnut salad.

Now you have confit and more stock than you know what to do with. Feel better? Now to use up the rest of those Seville oranges. Next week.