On Leap Day, D’Artagnan had a great sale and I took them up on it. When you order from them, you get to choose the day the food is delivered so that it doesn’t sit around outside when you won’t be home. It comes in a cooler loaded with ice packs.
This is what I got
- 6 Tubs of Black Truffle Butter
- 2 Tubs of Duck Fat
- Free-Range Australian Lamb Shoulder
- Whole Muscovy Duck
I was totally thrilled with all of my purchases. We love the truffle butter melted on top of a steak. We slow-roasted the lamb shoulder and had meals for days – it was delicious. Potatoes roasted in the duck fat – heaven!
I had really big plans for the duck though, and stretched it just about as far as I could. I started by butchering it (I watched Alton Brown butcher one and took notes)
I’ve got a bowl of scraps and the carcass in the back. 2 breasts, 2 wings, 2 legs/thighs, and a big pile of duck fat. I started with the fat.
It went in a heavy bottom pot just covered with water over medium heat. The water will all cook out but it helps the fat begin to render.
I put the bones in the bottom of my pressure cooker and threw in carrots, celery, onions, rosemary, peppercorns, bay leaves, parsley stems (frozen from last summer), and thyme. Then just barely covered with it water.
Then I dumped all of my salt on the ground.
I clamped on the pressure cooker lid, brought it up to high-pressure, reduced the heat to maintain pressure, and let it rip for 45 minutes before bringing the pressure down naturally.
Meanwhile. I attacked the legs/thighs. They were going to become Duck Confit!
I weighed the legs so that I knew how much salt I’d need to cure them and then mixed together some bay leaves. salt, juniper, cloves, etc.
I rubbed the cure all over them and put them in the fridge overnight.
Next, the breasts – soon to be Duck Prosciutto! I covered the bottom of a glass dish with kosher salt, put the breasts in, and then covered them with more salt. Into the fridge for 24 hours went this one as well.
About 40 minutes had passed since I started rendering the duck fat. Most of the water had simmered out and the skin was almost crispy so I let it go a little longer. When they were finally done, I strained out the cracklin’s (they went in the oven with Brussels sprouts later that evening)
This is the fat I had left, which got strained through cheese cloth into a jar and then stored in the fridge.
At this point the stock was ready so I let it cool a bit and then strained it as well through a cheese cloth lined strainer.
At the end of day one (after about 1.5 hours of work), this is what my fridge looked like:
Duck Fat and Duck Stock on the top shelf. Duck confit on top of duck prosciutto on the bottom shelf..
After 24 hours it was time to take the legs and breasts out of their salt cures. As you can see, the legs had released a lot of liquid. I rinsed them very very very well and then dried them off (but apparently not well enough, more on that later).
They got vacuum sealed with some duck fat
And I threw them in the sous vide supreme at 165F for 8 hours. When the time elapsed, I dunked them in an ice bath to chill them before throwing them in the fridge where they stayed for 3 weeks. (Confit is a preservation method, they would have been fine for a few more weeks in the fridge at least)
I pulled the breasts out of the salt and rinsed them super clean as well. They got wrapped up in little cheesecloth bundles and tied with string.
I weighed them and marked their starting weights on a piece of masking tape along with their target weights. When these guys are fully dried they should lose 30% of their weight in water. I hung them in my basement and waited, checking their weights every few days. It took just over 2 weeks before they were ready.
And here’s what they looked like when I unwrapped them.
I sliced it up as thin as I could so we could sample it. Wow! I must insist you all go get yourself some duck breasts and try this yourself. It is so easy and so delicious. Rich and salty and ducky. Yum. We brought it to two parties and got rave reviews, we’ve only got about half a breast left and I’m bummed. Definitely going to be making more of this.
And just this week, we finally decided to eat the duck confit. I pulled it out of the fridge and quickly dunked it in the sous vide supreme just to warm it through and melt the fat. Then I cut open the bag and dumped the whole thing in a cast iron skillet to crisp up the skin.
I made a spring risotto by sauteing mushrooms and onions in duck fat, toasting the rice, and then using the duck stock as the liquid to plump the risotto. I added asparagus in the last 5 minutes or so and then plated the risotto topped with the crispy duck confit.
It was also delicious but the confit was a little on the salty side. I think next time I need to be much more diligent in making sure I get all of the salt off before vacuum sealing it. If I’d confit it in the traditional manner (in a big pot of fat in the oven) the salt wouldn’t have been an issue, but in the sous vide it is. We had a ton of the risotto leftover so the following evening I dunked some turkey drumsticks in the sous vide supreme before work and then shredded them in for dinner.
So, that was my adventure with a duck. I do still have two duck wings vacuum sealed in the freezer because I didn’t know what to do with them yet. I’m thinking I’ll have to get a few more ducks before cooking up all the wings together one day. I definitely think I got my money’s worth and then some out of this quacker!