Confit of Chicken or Duck

Many readers will have tried confit of duck, a popular dish served in restaurants. This traditional French way of cooking poultry works just as well with chicken. Confit meat almost falls off the bone and is packed with flavour. Great for entertaining as most of the preparation can be done ahead of time. It’s also good for anyone who has trouble chewing because the meat is so tender.

Traditionally confit is made using duck or goose fat, but olive oil works well and can be kept and reused several times. When the oil has cooled pour it through a sieve, discard the bits (or in our house, mix into the dog’s dinner) then pour it into a large jar with a lid and refrigerate. It will separate into three layers – jelly at the bottom, then fat, then olive oil. Next time you make confit, use the top two layers – the oil and the fat – adding more olive oil as required. You can also use this oil and fat to make the most delicious roast potatoes. Use the jelly to enrich gravies and stocks.

8 chicken or duck pieces (about 1 kg) (I used 4 chicken Marylands)
2 tsp salt
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tsp dried thyme
Olive oil

Trim chicken or duck of excess fat. Chicken Marylands cut in two or left whole (as in the photo) are ideal. Place in a dish. Add the salt, garlic and herbs and rub in well using your hands. Cover and refrigerate for several hours or over night for flavours to penetrate.

Rinse the chicken/duck pieces and pat dry with paper towels. Place in a baking dish just big enough to fit them in a single layer and pour over enough olive oil to just cover. Bake covered for three hours at 120°C. When cool, carefully remove chicken/duck from the oil – keep the oil – see above. Refrigerate chicken/duck pieces until needed, covered. They will keep in the fridge for several days.

To serve: heat a little olive oil in a frying pan and cook the chicken or duck pieces, skin side down, until crispy. Turn over and cook the other side, or put the pan into a hot oven for a few minutes to heat the meat right through. If you have an air fryer cook the pieces for 8-10 minutes at 200°C which is what I did and gives a fantastic all-over crispy finish. If liked, serve with a sweet and sour sauce such as plum sauce.

Note: If you prefer Asian flavours, use soy sauce, garlic and ground star anise or Chinese five spice for the marinade, instead of salt, garlic and herbs.

Serves 4

Rick Stein’s Vietnamese Duck Braised in Spiced Orange Juice

We watched Rick Stein make this dish on a TV cooking show recently. He described it as a Vietnamese take on Duck à L’Orange and said it was easy to make and delicious.  Matthew is not a big fan of duck, but I am, so he felt magnanimous in suggesting we make it.

The recipe calls for a 2.5kg duck but I bought a frozen one from Aldi for $14.99 which was 2.2kg. I also bought a bottle of orange juice with pulp from the same place.

The recipe says to cut the duck into six portions, but you can only get 4 decent portions from a whole duck – two breasts and two Marylands (leg and thigh). I used the wings as well, so I did have six portions, but there’s not much meat on them. A better solution, especially if you’re entertaining and want six decent portions, is to buy six duck portions. If you use a whole duck, remove the portions, then use the carcass to make stock for another meal.

I was left with more than a cup of duck fat which I poured through a sieve into a jam jar and put in the fridge. There’s nothing quite like potatoes roasted in duck fat – see last week’s recipe.

1 Duck weighing between 2 and 2.5kg
Or 6 duck portions
1 Tbs crushed garlic
2 Tbs peeled and chopped or thinly sliced ginger
1 litre orange juice
4 Tbs fish sauce
1 Tbs sugar
5 whole star anise
4 bird’s eye red chillies
2 lemongrass stalks, finely chopped
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
8 spring onions, finely sliced on the diagonal
½ tsp cornflour

Remove the breasts, legs and wings from the duck so you have four decent portions plus the wings. Heat a large heavy-based frying pan over medium to high heat. Cook the duck skin side down for 5 to 6 minutes until skin is crisp, then on the other side for 2-3 minutes, or until all the fat has rendered off. Once cooked, place in a deep saucepan and set aside.

Pour all but 2 tbsp of the duck fat off and keep it (see Note below). Add the garlic and ginger to the frying pan and cook gently till soft, then add to the pan with the duck. Add the orange juice, fish sauce, star anise, chillies, lemongrass and season with black pepper. Simmer gently for an hour or until duck is tender.

Remove duck and set aside, skim off any excess fat from the sauce then bring to a boil and simmer vigorously until reduced and concentrated in flavour. Mix cornflour with 1 tsp of water, mix into sauce and simmer for a further minute. Recipe can be made ahead to this point.

Put duck portions back into the sauce for a minute or to and heat through. Serve duck with rice and a green vegetable, garnished with the spring onions.

Serves 4 using a whole duck or 6 using portions

Note: After removing the duck portions from the carcass I had quite a few pieces of duck fat or fatty skin. I put them into a frying pan and cooked them gently until most of the fat had been rendered. I added this to the fat obtained when browning the duck portions and poured it through a sieve into a jam jar.

Duck with Cumquat Sauce

We have a cumquat bush which is 3-4 metres tall and very prolific. I love trying recipes which traditionally use oranges to see how they turn out with cumquats. This easy duck with orange sauce recipe which I’ve been making forever was easy to adapt and the result was delicious. The cumquats are just a garnish, so if you don’t have any you can leave them out.

Other cumquat recipes on Café Cat you might like to try are Cumquat, Date and Ginger Chutney and Cumquat and Almond Cake.

Duck with Cumquat Sauce1 whole duck
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbs fresh rosemary leaves
zest of one orange
Orange Sauce:
¾ cup orange juice
¾ cup chicken stock
1 cup orange or cumquat marmalade
1 Tbs cornflour mixed with 2 Tbs water
1 Tbs lemon juice
Glazed cumquats:
16-20 whole cumquats
2 cups water
½ cup sugar

Preheat oven to 200°C. Prick duck all over with a fork. Place salt, pepper, rosemary and orange zest in food processor and pulverise. Rub this mixture all over and inside the duck. Roast for 40 mins per kilo and a bit longer if necessary. Duck should be nicely browned, crispy and cooked through.

While duck is cooking make the sauce. Place all ingredients in a saucepan and cook, stirring, until thickened. Leave aside.

While duck is cooking prepare the cumquats. Place in a saucepan with the water and simmer gently for 30 mins or until soft. Remove cumquats. Add sugar to liquid in pan and cook for 5 minutes to form a syrup. Return cumquats to the pan and continue to cook gently for 30 mins or until the fruit is glazed and syrup has reduced to about a quarter of a cup.

When duck is ready, remove it from the roasting pan and tip off all the fat, leaving just the caramelised juices. Mix the orange sauce into these pan drippings. Cut four servings from the duck (keep the rest to make soup) and return them to the pan. Spoon over some of the sauce and put back in the oven for 10-15 mins to glaze. Serve duck garnished with the glazed cumquats. Mashed potatoes go well with this.

Serves 4

Duck Breast with Soba Noodles & Mango

I’m always on the look out for quick week day dinners which can be on the table in less than half an hour. Delicious magazine, which I receive every month as a gift, always supplies a few winners.

This recipe for duck breasts from the November issue is easy to halve for two people – as I did – and features the winning combination of duck and mango, both favourites of mine.

Duck Breast with Soba Noodles and Mango

4 x 180g duck breast fillets, skin on salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 Tbs hoisin sauce
270g pkt soba noodles
⅓ cup soy sauce
1 Tbs each sesame oil and brown sugar
juice of 1 lime
1 mango, sliced
2 cups watercress sprigs or rocket leaves
1 Tbs sesame seeds, lightly toasted

Turn oven to 180°C. Score skin on duck breasts in a diagonal pattern then season both sides with salt and pepper. Place skin-side down in a non-stick frying pan and cook over low heat for about 6 mins or until most of the fat has gone and skin is crisp. Brush both sides with the hoisin sauce then transfer to the oven (on a baking tin lined with foil to save washing up) and bake skin side up for 6-10 mins or until cooked but still pink in the middle. Rest, loosely covered with foil, for 5 mins.

Meanwhile cook noodles according to packet instructions and drain. Mix soy sauce, sesame oil, brown sugar and lime juice together. Mix half with the noodles. Thinly slice duck breasts and arrange in four bowls with the mango, noodles and watercress or rocket leaves. Drizzle with remaining dressing and sprinkle with the sesame seeds.

Serves 4