Duck confit (French: confit de canard) is a French dish made
with the leg of the duck. While it is made across France, it is seen as a
speciality of Gascony. The confit is prepared in a centuries-old process of
preservation that consists of salt curing a piece of meat (generally goose,
duck, or pork) and then poaching it in its own fat.
Left: Duck confit
To prepare a confit, the meat is rubbed with salt and garlic, then covered and
refrigerated for up to 36 hours. Salt curing the meat acts as a preservative.
Prior to cooking, the salt is brushed off the meat and it is patted dry. The
meat is then placed in a cooking dish deep enough to contain the meat and the
rendered fat, and placed in an oven at a low temperature (170 – 275 Fahrenheit/
76 - 135 degrees Celsius). The meat is slowly poached at least until
cooked, or until meltingly tender, as little as 90 minutes or as long as 10
The meat and fat are then removed from the oven and left to cool. When cool, the
meat can be transferred to a canning jar or other container and completely
submerged in the fat. A sealed jar of duck confit may be kept in the
refrigerator for up to six months, or at several weeks if kept in a reusable
plastic container. To maximize preservation if canning, the fat should top the
meat by at least one inch. The cooking fat acts as both a seal and preservative
and results in a very rich taste. Skipping the salt curing stage greatly reduces
the shelf life of the confit.
Confit is also sold in cans, which can be kept for several years. The flavorful
fat from the confit may also be used in many other ways, as a frying medium for
sautéed vegetables (e.g., green beans and garlic, wild or cultivated mushrooms),
savory toasts, scrambled eggs or omelettes, and as an addition to shortcrust
paste for tarts and quiches.
A classic recipe is to fry or grill the legs in a bit of the fat till they are
well-browned and crisp, and use more of the fat to roast some potatoes and
garlic as an accompaniment. The potatoes roasted in duck fat to accompany the
crisped-up confit is called pommes de terre à la sarladaise. Another
accompaniment is red cabbage slow-braised with apples and red wine.