RECIPE: Duck Confit with Braised Red Cabbage

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Duck Confit with Red Cabbage

This dish is fantastic for small dinner parties; we had a Pre-Christmas/Re-Thanksgiving dinner at home for my sister, who visited from Hong Kong two weeks ago.  There were six of us, this was a great option other than roasting a whole turkey.

Duck confit is a French dish made with the leg of duck; it is prepared in a centuries old of preservation that consists of salt curing a piece of meat and then cooking it in its own fat.  The flavourful fat from the confit may also be used in many ways, for sautéed vegetables, roast potatoes, scrambled eggs or savoury toasts, just to name a few. Duck fat can be purchased at gourmet meat stores or butchery, however it can be quite expensive.  Olive oil is an excellent alternative as it gives it a very nice flavour.  Duck confit can be used in salads, cassoulets or to make duck rillettes.  For my dish, I did not prepare any gravy and serve as is with cranberry compote with Riesling, pears and apples (I will post the recipe separately) to give it a Christmas touch.

Duck Confit:

4 Duck Legs, Duck Fat or Olive oil, juniper berries (6), allspice (6) cloves (4) 1 Tablespoon (each) chopped rosemary, thyme and whole peppercorns, 2 Tablespoons kosher salt (coarse salt) 

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Rub duck legs with cure; ready to refrigerate!

– To make the cure (Salaison in French): Bash the juniper, allspice, peppercorns and cloves in a pestle and mortar until fairly fine, mix with salt and chopped herbs.

– Clean the duck legs and pat dry, cut off excess skin.

– Rub the cure on both meat and skin side of the duck leg. Cover, chill and let cure in fridge for up to 24 hours.

– The next day, rinse off the cure and seasoning, pat dry.

– Place duck legs (skin side up) in Dutch Oven, cover with fat (duck fat or olive oil).

– Leave on a very low heat for 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Please keep an eye on it as hot fat can be very dangerous, approximately every 15 minutes, skim off scum from oil.

– Take the pan off the heat. Check the duck is cooked by transferring a leg to a plate and pinch the meat, it should pull apart very easily.

– When everything is cool, ladle some fat from the pan into a large earthenware dish and place the duck on it. Pour the rest of the fat to ensure the meat is completely submerged, cover and store in fridge for up to one month.

– To serve: pull the duck legs from the fat, wipe away any excess fat then roast in the oven until skin is crispy and the meat is heated through.  For individual plating, serve duck leg on top of cabbage with spoonful of compote

Braised Cabbage 

Ingredients:

1 red cabbage (around 2 pounds, halved and cored, shredded 1/2 inch slices), 125 ml red wine vinegar, 100 g brown sugar (I used maple syrup, adjust accordingly), 1 large thinly sliced onion, red wine (fruity undertones preferred, 750 ml (1 bottle), apple juice (50 ml), 2 tbsp of juniper berries and 1 tbsp of black peppercorns, 1 sprig of sage,  1 to 2 Tablespoon unsalted butter, kosher salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:

– Using medium heat, In large pot combine vinegar and sugar and bring to simmer until mixture is reduced to syrup consistency

– In the same pot, melt butter, add onion and cabbage then mix well; turn up to medium high heat, cover pot with lid and let mixture “sweat” for approximately 10 to 15 minutes

– Add red wine and apple juice, make sure there is enough liquid to cover cabbage; add juniper berries, sage and peppercorn; taste and add more maple syrup to sweeten mixture (if necessary).

– Reduce heat to medium low and continue to cook and stir until liquid is reduced and cabbage is tender.

– Season to taste with salt and black pepper (optional)

– This dish can be made one day ahead, let cool completely before refrigerating; reheat covered over medium heat.

Notes: 

Cabbage Recipe loosely adapted from Great British Chefs, Chef Andy Waters.

Duck Confit recipe loosely based on my own notes from NWCAV poultry class and Jamie Oliver’s rustic recipes published on Daily Mail UK.

Wine selection for cooking the cabbage: I used an inexpensive Cabernet Merlot with blackcurrant undertones which I think will compliment the duck.  The amount of red wine and juice can be adjusted accordingly.

I actually used a combination of melted duck fat (purchased from a butcher) and olive oil.  Excess duck skin (from legs) can be saved for later use to render into duck fat.

Vancouver Resources: Duck legs from Armando’s (Granville Island public Market, call ahead for availability), Duck fat from Pete’s Meats (2817 Arbutus Street, Vancouver).

Duck legs can be reheated on stovetop using skillet; skin side down and cook until skin is crispy.

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