Before sous vide came into my life, I made duck confit just once or twice a year. Gathering enough duck fat was one challenge, but I really despised dealing with a gallon of hot fat and cleaning up all the various pans and containers. Sous vide changed all that.
You’ve probably heard it before, but this is simply the perfect technique for making duck confit. Only a relatively small quantity of fat is needed, there’s no need to melt it, and cleanup is as simple as throwing away the food bags! The duck needs a few hours in a dry salt brine before cooking, so be sure to plan accordingly.
I love the versatility of the duck, which comes out melt-in-your-mouth tender and subtly infused with an intriguing blend of spices. You can serve the duck legs whole, with a simple salad to cut the richness, or use the meat in everything from rillettes to risotto to spring rolls.
Makes 4 duck legs
- Wash the duck legs in cold water and pat them dry. Place the legs in a shallow baking dish that will hold them comfortably in a single layer.
- In a small coffee grinder or spice mill, grind the cinnamon stick, star anise, and peppercorns into a fine powder. Transfer the spice mixture to a small bowl and add the garlic, orange zest, ginger, and salt. Stir to blend.
- Sprinkle the salt-spice mixture over the duck legs, rubbing it on all surfaces of the flesh and skin. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate the duck for 2 to 4 hours.
- Preheat the water bath to 180°F (82°C).
- Wash the duck legs thoroughly to remove the dry brine. Place the legs in a bowl and cover with cold water. Let sit for 5 minutes, then drain and repeat this process. Dry the duck legs thoroughly with paper towels.
- Place two duck legs in a food bag and add 1 cup of duck fat to the bag. Repeat with the remaining two legs and 1 cup of fat. Vacuum seal both bags and refrigerate until you are ready to cook the duck.
- Cook the duck legs for 7 hours if they are small (less than 8 ounces) or 8 hours if they weigh more than 8 ounces each. Remove the bags from the water bath and carefully open. Drain off the liquid fat and refrigerate or freeze for future use. The duck legs can be seared in a hot skillet or run under the broiler to crisp the skin. Or refrigerate the duck, covered, for up to 3 days.