Daily Archives: 8 June 2011

Duck, Duck, Goose

I love duck. More specifically, I’m a dark meat kind of girl, so that means I love duck legs. For heaven on earth, duck legs as duck confit can’t be beat. Confit is a form of food preservation where the meat is cooked slowly in its fat and then stored, encased in the fat for longer storage.

Fortunately for me, when Howard first started with his sous vide experiments, he easily mastered duck confit during his early efforts. Because the meat is cooked in vacuum-sealed bags, the duck renders enough fat for this process, more or less, which is much less overwhelming than the quarts of duck fat called for in recipes that are cooked in a pot. He actually wrote this up for an earlier “guest post”. It was our only duck confit failure because that time, he tried something new and decided to store the duck out of the bags in a plastic container, still in the refrigerator. The problem was the fat didn’t completely cover the duck and it spoiled (hence no Part 2). You can read about Part 1 here.

This put Howard off making this for quite a while (it’s been over a year). He recently tried again. I’m happy to report he’s back on his game, and it was good as ever. Once made, With the duck confit stashed in the refrigerator (in their vacuum sealed bags), it’s practically fast food. The final preparation is to broil the duck legs to crisp up the skin. The contrast of the meltingly tender meat (it’s falling off the bones) and the crispy skin is a delight.

In addition to duck confit, I also love beans. My favorites, in no particular order, are tiny French lentils, black beans, and chick peas. Lentils are the perfect accompaniment to this French-inspired meal. I tossed cooked lentils with diced carrots and a vinaigrette heavily laced with tarragon for a warm salad that made a bed for the duck leg. Roasted asparagus rounded out the plate perfectly.

No leftovers, but we enjoyed every bite!

Lentil Salad
Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish

1 cup dried French (Le Puy) lentils, rinsed
1 onion, chopped fine
3 bay leaves
2 carrots, peeled, and diced fine
½ cup Tarragon Vinaigrette (recipe below)

Sort through the lentils and discard any rocks or other debris. Don’t skip this step. I always seem to find at least one little stone.

Place the lentils, onion, and bay leaves in a medium pot. Cover with water, about 1-inch above the contents of the pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer until tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Drain.

Toss the warm lentils with carrots and vinaigrette. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

I prefer this warm, but it’s good served at any temperature (warm, room temperature, or cold).

Tarragon Vinaigrette
Makes about 1 cup

When tarragon is booming in the herb garden, I make this dressing frequently. I also like to steep sprigs of tarragon in vinegar to make my own tarragon vinegar.

¼ c tarragon vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
½ cup olive oil
2 Tbsp chopped tarragon leaves
½ cup chopped parsley (optional)
Salt & freshly ground pepper

In the blender, combine vinegar, mustard, and oil. Add herbs and blend until leaves are chopped fine, but not pureed. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Leftover dressing is great on green salad and potato salad. When it sits, the vinaigrette sometimes thickens. Thin with water, as needed.