Simple Duck Confit with Spicy Pickled Raisins

Who knew such a thing as easy duck confit existed?! I love duck. If you know me, you know that I have been on a quest for duck legs for the last several months since I discovered this New York Times recipe, and I have finally been successful in my search!

You won’t have any trouble finding the whole frozen bird at Whole Foods or other stores like that, and you can even find frozen duck breasts without much difficulty. However, the legs have eluded me… until my VEGETARIAN friend took me to a wonderful meat market in Lincoln Park (where I was also able to acquire the most delicious turkey jerky for my little shihtzu maltese puppy brother… which reminds me that I need to post some dog treat recipes). Anyway, I picked up four duck legs, and I was on my way to greatness.

Now when I say this recipe is easy, you can take my word for it BUT it is not quick. This is a sleepy Sunday project that you will have to coddle a bit, but it is SO worth it.

First of all, let’s talk about what “duck confit” even means. To cook something “confit” means to cook it in its own fat. How decadent, right? Low and slow is key.

So you prep the duck legs by pricking their skin to maximize the rendering of all of that fatty goodness. Rub them with some garlic, season them, and toss in some sprigs of thyme and dried chiles. Into the pan skin down please, and add a bit of water!

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Then as I said, low and slow like this in the oven for 2 hours covered with foil!

Fast forward:

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Fat rendered? CHECK. Flip them, then 2.5 hours more in the oven.

FAST FORWARD:

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At this point, this duck is so juicy and flavorful, it wouldn’t hurt you to steal a taste if you’re the cook…

For the next step, you need to remove the duck legs from this pan and get them onto a cookie sheet (skin side up). Crank your oven up to BROIL, and let’s crisp these little guys up. Brush the skin of each leg with some of the leftover duck fat, sprinkle each with salt and pepper, and stick them back in the oven until they’re golden brown.

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Keep a VERY close eye on them, this should only take about 10 minutes tops, do NOT dry out your duck legs. Do NOT burn your duck legs. All of your hard work will be in vain.

*** Save the rest of that holy grail duck fat in an airtight container in the fridge or freeze it for duck fat fries, duck fat roasted veggies, duck fat hash browns… the possibilities are endless.

Now there is another interesting component to this dish that might seem odd – pickled golden raisins. DO NOT skip this garnish-that-is-much-more-than-just-a-garnish. You just make a simple pickling liquid, throw in the raisins, and let them marinate.

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Warning – this pickling liquid is very potent. Keep a lid on it while you’re working with the duck. And don’t stare directly into the pot.

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So tasty. I actually saved the leftover raisins, and I tossed them into several salads throughout the following week. They are unexpected little flavor bombs!

Here you have it:

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Simple Duck Confit with Spicy Pickled Raisins

This recipe is inspired by the New York Times’ Duck Confit with Spicy Pickled Raisins, which can be found here.

*Note: My version of this recipe serves two. You can double the recipe (as it is in the NYT link) to serve four. Trust me, each person will want two legs. Either way, I’d recommend making the entire batch of pickled raisins, as they have many uses.

Ingredients: 

4 skin-on, bone-in duck legs

4 garlic cloves, sliced

5 sprigs of fresh thyme

5 dried chiles de arbol, crushed

1/2 cup white wine vinegar

1/4 cup sugar

2 tsps brown mustard seeds

1 sprig of fresh rosemary

1 1/2 cups golden raisins

Kosher salt

Fresh cracked black pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
  2. Use a sharp knife to make small pricks in the skin of each duck leg (do not prick the meat underneath). Rub both sides of each duck leg with the garlic slices, and season with kosher salt and black pepper.
  3. Place the duck legs skin side down in a 9×13 baking dish, scattering the garlic slices on top. Add 4 thyme sprigs, 3 crushed chiles, and 1/2 cup of water to the pan. Cover with foil, and cook for 2 hours in the oven.
  4. While the duck legs are cooking, combine the vinegar, sugar, mustard seeds, rosemary, the remaining sprig of thyme, 2 crushed chiles, and 1 tsp of salt in a medium sauce pan. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved. Stir in the raisins, remove the pan from the heat, and set aside with a lid on.
  5. Once the duck legs have cooked for 2 hours, flip them over so they are skin side up, and cook them for 2 1/2 hours more.
  6. Remove the duck legs from the baking pan and place them skin side up on a cookie sheet. Put the oven on the broil setting. Brush the skin of each duck leg with some rendered duck fat (and store the rest for other uses), season with kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper, and broil the duck legs until the skin is crisp and golden brown, about 10 minutes. Check frequently (every couple minutes) to prevent burning. Serve the legs with the golden raisins and extra thyme.

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