Yield: 4 Servings
|2||Ducks with necks and gizzards; or|
|4||Pair duck legs with thighs attached|
|3 tablespoons||Kosher Salt; Up To 6 Tablespoons|
|1½ tablespoon||Shallots; coarsely chopped|
|1½ tablespoon||Fresh parsley; chopped|
|2 teaspoons||Black peppercorns; lightly crushed|
|1||Bay leaf; crumbled|
|1 teaspoon||Garlic; coarsely chopped|
|1 pinch||Dried thyme or sprig fresh thyme; chopped|
|4 cups||Lard Or Goose Fat; Up To 6 Cups|
|1||Whole head garlic|
|½ teaspoon||Salt; Up To 3/4 Teaspoon|
|Good quality lard|
1. 1 DAY IN ADVANCE: Trim loose flaps of skin from duck and pull out all loose fat from cavity; reserve. Remove any skin from necks; reserve. Peel off and discard outer covering of gizzards.
2. Using poultry shears or large, sharp, heavy knife, cut up ducks to produce pieces for confit: 4 legs (thigh with drumstick attached), 4 wings, and 4 breast pieces. Remove wing tips; reserve backs and wing tips for soup or other purpose. Remove skin from backs; add to reserved pieces of skin and fat.
3. Weigh the trimmed pieces. For every pound, use 41/3 teaspoons salt for longterm ripening (more than 1 week). Combine salt with shallots, parsley, peppercorns, bay leaf, minced garlic, and thyme in large bowl. Toss duck pieces, necks, and gizzards with the mixture. Cover with kitchen towel or plastic wrap and refrigerate 18 to 24 hours.
4. Meanwhile, cut reserved pieces of fat and skin into small pieces (¼-inch or less) and render out most of the fat by either oven or stovetop method as follows: For oven method, heat oven to 300 degrees F; cook duck fat and skin in deep ovenproof bowl for about 1 hour, or until fat turns clear and bits of skin have floated to the surface and are pale golden. Strain rendered fat into heatproof container. If not using fat immediately, cool, uncovered, to room temperature; store, tightly covered, in refrigerator.
5. THE FOLLOWING DAY: Place rendered duck fat in CrockPot or large, very heavy pot such as enameled cast-iron casserole. Add 4 to 6 cups rendered poultry fat or lard exact amount will vary depending on size and shape of your cooking vessel. Slowly melt the fat.
6. Remove marinated duck pieces from bowl and rinse under cold running water. Let drain briefly (it is not necessary to dry surface completely).
7. As soon as fat has melted, slip in pieces of duck. Fat should cover duck; if there is not enough fat, work in batches. Split head of garlic in half crosswise and stick a whole clove in each half. Add garlic to melted fat.
8. In CrockPot or over very low heat, uncovered, bring fat to temperature of 190 degrees F.; this should take about 1 hour in covered CrockPot or partially covered casserole (faster heating will result in a stringytextured confit). Hold temperature at 190 F., adjusting setting as necessary, until gizzards, neck, wings, and breasts are tender enough to be pierced easily with wooden pick, about 1 hour; CrockPot should be partially covered, Skin will be pale in color. Remove these pieces with slotted spoon as they are done; keep pieces covered with foil to prevent drying out.
Maintain 190 degrees F temperature another 30 minutes, or until thickest part of thigh tests done. Remove from heat, let duck legs cool in fat 1 hour. Remove duck thighs and garlic with slotted spoon 9. Ladle fat to large, very heavy pot. Heat, uncovered, over medium high heat to almost boiling, skimming off foam that rises to surface. Let bubble 5 to 10 minutes, or until spattering stops and surface of fat is nearly undisturbed. Watch carefully and adjust heat if necessary to avoid burning or smoking; fat that is allowed to reach smoking point will be ruined for reuse. Remove from heat; let cool a few minutes.
10. Have ready a clean, dry container or several containers chosen according to how long you plan to keep the confit.
11. Confit to be kept longer than a week and up to 4 months requires a somewhat different procedure. For this amount, use three 1 quart or two 11/2 quart crocks or jars. (Since pieces will be embedded in solidified fat and cannot be casually removed, it is necessary to use more than 1 vessel in order to separate larger pieces that will be served whole, or in attractive slices, from smaller and bonier ones that are best added to soups or stews.) Heavy, glazed earthenware crocks, taller than they are wide, are excellent. Remember that the narrower the vessel, the less fat will be needed to cover duck pieces; however, pieces should not be crowded against the sides. Line up containers and prepare to fill them. Pour boiling water into each; swirl and discard, Thoroughly dry the containers.
Immediately place ½ teaspoon salt in bottom of each crock; this prevents continued in part 2