Brrrr, time for comfort food of the first order writes Sandra Tate …
Preparing the confit of duck legs & garlic
Confit is a traditional French method of cooking and preserving by salting and immersion in rendered fat. Sealed in the fat it’s cooked in, and stored in a cool place, it can last for several months. This month I set about taking confit a level further and introducing smoke.
First prepare the duck legs by severing the tendons at the bottom of the leg as the meat will want to shrink. For 4 duck legs, rub 40g salt into the meat side mostly, and a little over the skin side. Cover and leave for 2 hours. Liquid will be puddling around them, rinse, drain and pat dry with kitchen towel. Sit the legs side by side, skin side up, in a snug, deep tin, together with 4 peeled, plump, garlic cloves and a large sprig of rosemary. Scrape the contents of a 340g can of pure goose fat (available from most major supermarkets) over the legs, ensuring that the level of the fat will not come too close to the top of the tin once it is gently bubbling.
To smoke the duck and garlic confit
Fill the Bradley Smoker stack with apple wood bisquettes and set the temperature to 120°C. Leave the top vent open to maintain circulation and lighter concentration of smoke. Place the confit in the smoker and remove after 90 minutes to turn the legs to skin side down. Continue for a further 90 minutes. Remove and allow to cool before transferring to a storage container, complete with fat and cloves of garlic. Keep in the fridge until required. Discard the rosemary.
Ingredients – serves 4
4 smoked legs of duck confit
4 cloves garlic confit
1-2 tbsp smoked goose fat
2 cans flageolet beans
1 sprig fresh rosemary
200g baby leaf spinach leaves
1 large tomato, deseeded & cut into small dice
1 Preheat the oven to 180°C
Remove the duck legs from the goose fat, scraping any fat that clings back into the container (this precious smoked fat can be used to cook and flavour roast or sautéed potatoes, making cassoulet, or a smoky bubble and squeak). Place on a roasting tray and cook for 30 minutes or until golden and piping hot. Again, reclaim any fat from the tray.
2 Towards the end of cooking time for the legs, melt 1-2 tablespoons of smoked goose fat in a saucepan, add the cloves of garlic confit, pressing them with the back of a spoon to reduce them to a creamy purée. Rinse the flageolet beans and add to the fat together with seasoning to taste and a sprig of rosemary. Cover and reheat gently for 6-8 minutes. Add the young spinach leaves and turn in to the beans, stirring gently and cooking only until wilted. Fold in the diced tomato and divide between warmed plates. Prop a leg of duck confit on each and serve with crusty bread or sautéed potatoes.