Confit duck with lentils
- November 2018
- Serves 4
- Hands-on time 45 min, oven time 4-5 hours, simmering time 30-50 min, plus cooling & 24 hours marinating
Chef Henry Harris’s confit duck legs, served with lentils, may seem like a labour of love but the end results are well worth the effort. Guests will be wowed by the fall-apart-at-the-fork tender duck beneath the crispy skin.
Henry says: “Confit de canard is a dish many cooks believe is too tricky to make at home. That’s strange, as in southwest France it was the home cook’s way of preserving the glut of duck meat after the birds were slaughtered. The confit duck would sustain the family during the winter.”
- 46.4g (36.1g saturated)
- 34.1g (4.8g sugars)
For the marinade
- 2 whole cloves
- 12g coriander seeds
- 12g black peppercorns
- 8 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- A few fresh thyme and rosemary sprigs, leaves picked
- 60g rock salt
For the duck
- 4 large free-range duck legs
- 1kg duck fat (from good butchers, large supermarkets and delis)
- 1 garlic bulb
- Fresh thyme & rosemary sprigs
For the lentils
- 2 tbsp duck fat or vegetable oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 carrot, finely chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- 200g puy lentils
- 2 tbsp dijon mustard
- 1½ tbsp red wine vinegar
- Roughly whizz all the marinade ingredients in a food processor or crush in a pestle and mortar, rub onto the duck legs, then marinate in a covered, non-reactive (glass or ceramic) bowl in the fridge for 24 hours or at least overnight.
- Rinse off the marinade under gently running water for 20 minutes. Heat the oven to 150°C/130°C fan/gas 2.
- Put the duck legs in a casserole and cover with the duck fat (see tip). Halve the garlic bulb horizontally, then slip it into the fat along with the thyme and rosemary. Cook for 4-5 hours until the meat is tender. (It’s ready when you pull on a shard of meat and it slips off the bone easily.) Carefully remove from the heat.
- Set to one side to cool for at least an hour. Transfer the duck legs to a snug-fitting lidded jar. Strain the duck fat (discard the garlic and herbs) and use to cover the duck. Chill until required (see Make Ahead).
- To make the lentils, melt the duck fat or heat the oil in a large casserole and add the onion and carrot. Cook on a gentle heat for 10 minutes until softened, then stir in the bay leaves and lentils. Season with black pepper and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil, then simmer gently until the lentils are cooked (30-50 minutes). Top up the water as it cooks so the lentils are covered.
- Meanwhile, heat the oven to 180°C/ 160°C fan/gas 4. Lift the duck legs out of the fat (see Henry’s tip, right), wiping off any excess, then put skin-side down in a large ovenproof frying pan and heat until sizzling. Turn the legs, put in the oven and cook for 20 minutes or until the skin is crisp.
- Drain the lentils, then stir in the mustard and vinegar with a little extra seasoning if you think it’s needed. Serve with the duck legs.
If you have small jars of duck fat, spoon most of it out, then warm gently in a microwave and you’ll be able to pour out the rest.
You need to marinate the duck the day before cooking.
Confit duck will keep chilled for 3-4 months from the end of step 4 if immersed in fat and you’ve sterilised the jar (learn how to sterilise jars, here).
Plump for a richer, more hearty red from the southwest such as minervois or fitou and decant the wine before serving.
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