Barbary duck confit

Barbary duck confit

Generally only the leg is used for confit de canard. The breast, called ‘magret’, is cooked like a steak, nice and pink. ‘Confit ‘is an almost exclusively French method of salting meats and poultry. Although usually associated with duck and goose, in fact any meat with a fairly high fat content can be preserved in this way. Right across the south west of France you will find all sorts of charcuteries full of confit of pork, tongue, sausages, even pigs’ feet.

We use Barbary duck for our confit de canard. They are meatier than other types and yet still have plenty of fat… I suppose that is a contradiction, in which case they must just be bigger than other types. I always thought that Barbary was some region of south west France, probably with mountains and streams and forests, and of course ducks. We get ours direct from France, but this is not their country of origin; they are from Mexico primarily and South America, and actually their correct name is the Muscovy duck. Barbary seems to be their adopted culinary name.

We marinate them in Himalayan rock salt (not very French but no additives) garlic and ‘herbs de Provence’, which here means herbs from my garden. Herbs de Provence is the name the French use for a mix of herbs – rosemary, thyme, oregano, marjoram and (some would add) savory – that all grow in Provence.  The duck is left for 24 hours before being cooked very slowly for around 3 hours. In the olden days before fridges had been invented, confit style meat was a very good way of preserving. Simply cook the duck then place the legs in a sturdy pot and pour the melted fat over to cover. Gently tap the pot on the table to remove any air pockets. The fat, when cold, sets and effectively seals the meat from contamination. No expensive vacuum packer needed here to help preserve it. The salt of course adds to the preservation. Left in a cool area with a tight fitting lid the duck would last for months. We don’t keep them for that time of course; they are cooked twice a week and have become one of French Kitchen’s most popular dishes.

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