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Aaron N. Tubbs

Dragon chaser.

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Stop & Shop antagonizes me, when it comes to duck. I’ll think “I want something quick and tasty tonight, like some duck breasts!” Without fail, I’ll go to the store, and they will have zero duck, except for full ducks. Full ducks don’t fall under the “quick and easy dinner,” and I don’t have the heart to just cut off the bird’s breasts and throw the rest away. Then I’ll be going to pick up some OJ, and there will be a half dozen duck breasts, taunting me.

This last screwed me when I’d made great plans for braised duck legs over root vegetables and shallots. I vowed that the next time I saw a significant supply of duck legs, I’d buy them all and make something. Alternatively, if they were metered out, I would purchase a few, freeze, and accumulate until I had enough to make something tasty.

A man of my (internal?) word, I stumbled across a half dozen duck legs and nearly a dozen duck breasts at Stop & Shop on Friday, so I bought up all the legs and made plans to braise them.

As I was browsing recipes for braised duck legs, I found some sentence to the effect of “when people think duck legs, they think confit, but there are other options.”

Confit. Interesting. I’ve never had bad confit in a restaurant, so I decided perhaps that would be worth a shot. I didn’t have any clue what confit was, other than tasty duck legs, so I looked it up in my nearest French glossary of food things, and discovered that confit is French for “delicious.”

Err… I skipped a step there. In fact, confit refers to poaching and preserving meat in fat. Let’s put that another way: Duck, slowly poached in rendered duck fat.

See what I mean? Confit is French for delicious.

I had a hunch that Ruhlman’s Charcuterie would have a recipe for confit, and I was not disappointed. There’s a whole chapter on it! I love this book, which the author describes as follows:

or a book that encourages you to eat voluminous quantities of animal fat and salt and contains recipes that take days or even months, some of which will kill you if you don’t do them right!

I settled on the recipe that used ginger and star anise, thinking that the anise and duck would go well together. I trimmed the duck and packed it with salt and seasoning on Saturday, and then rendered the duck fat. Sunday I washed and dried the duck, set it in a pan, and poached it in fat for 12 hours. I don’t know that I’d go so far as to call the result beautiful, but early taste samples tell me that it’s delicious.

Later this week I’ll pull some out of the fat it’s submerged in, roast it up in the oven, and enjoy…