If someone would have told me twelve months ago that I'd be making my own duck comfit I would have probably snarled and shaken my head. I discovered duck confit rather late, French products are not as easy to find in Italy as they are in the UK, but it was love at first taste. But making some myself? No way. And yet after reading again and again something started to tingle inside of me. So when the moment came to do some serious cooking I decided: confit it would be.
My original idea was to try and prepare some confit quails, one per serving. As fate wanted I didn't manage to find any, even when I tired ordering them in advance. Lucky for me there's a nice shop selling quality duck legs and breasts in this town: duck confit it would be. I had started writing a little explanation on the method I used but there's someone who did so much better than I could on eGullet. I only changed the flavoring agents. Instead of the classic French herbs and spices I used a more oriental touch adding star anise, Sichuan peppercorns and Kefir lime leaves to the dry marinade. Cooking confit slowly in the oven is a sort of torture: the whole house smells delicious and yet, even when the meat is cooked, you'll should wait a few days at least before you get a taste of the moist, flavorful result. Should. I cut a chunk off one of the legs straight away. Hmmm!
The legs rested a few days covered in their cooking fat (goose, which is cheap and easy to find here in Germany). When the time came to serve them I just scraped off the fat and heated them under the broiler. To go with them I had made some wild rice, a sour cherry sauce and spinach. The spinach was simply cleaned, sauteed in a tiny amount of goose fat and then dressed with salt, pepper and a few drops Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale aged 18 years: so simple, yet the best spinach I've ever had. The sour cherry sauce worked nicely to balance the fattiness of the dish. I was a bit sloppy with my plating, as you can see from the opening picture, forgetting my original idea. I wasn't really happy, but the guests were waiting and didn't seem to mind at all. Or so I believe. I think I can take those clean picked duck leg bones as a sign of appreciation.
Sour cherry sauce
makes about half a cup
a cup of dried sour cherries
half a bottle of fruity and not too tannic red wine
half a teaspoon of cinnamon
salt and pepper
6 tablespoon chicken stock (preferably unsalted home made)
4 tablespoon cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces.
soak the cherries in the wine for a few hours, or even better overnight.
pour wine, cherries and cinnamon in a pot and slowly simmer until the cherries are soft. Puree in a blender or using an immersion stab.
Pass through a sieve twice, reserving the liquid. Transfer the liquid to a new pot and reduce to one third of the original volume. (You can keep the solid "wastes", mix them with some sugar and eat them with yogurt, cream cheese or in your cereal. It might not look pretty, but it tastes good!)
Add chicken stock and reduce again, till it starts to get sirupy. remove from the fire and emulsify the cold butter in the sauce. Adjust to taste with salt and pepper. You should end up with a shiny burgundy red sauce that just coats the back of a tablespoon.