Duck Confit Shepherd’s Pie for the Charcutepalooza October Challenge

by Anne Maxfield on October 14, 2011

Accidental Locavore Duck Confit Shepherds Pie

What makes the difference between a pot pie and a shepherd’s pie*? And why should we care? Ever since the Accidental Locavore got a set of small gratin pans, I’ve been entranced with the idea of individual gratins, Parmesans, pies etc. It works on the same principal as wrapping something in parchment: everyone gets a cute little dish with yummy food in front of them.

For the October Charcutepalooza challenge, we were tasked with making confits, rilettes or galantines. Now, the Accidental Locavore doesn’t need much arm-twisting to poach (almost anything) in fat for a long period of time. Our friends and cohorts at D’Artagnan soon had me outfitted with eight massive Moulard duck legs and a corresponding amount of duck fat. I really want to give a shout-out to them. Not only do they make a terrific (local) product, but everyone there is so immensely helpful! If you should need an excuse to order something from them the cassoulet kit is scrumptious…bonus, it feeds twelve of your hungriest friends.

After the confit was made, the Locavore decided to turn it into what should have been a great fall dish; duck confit shephard’s pie. Only problem, the weather had reverted back to summer, but we Charcutepalooza folk are made of stronger stuff. A quick invite to some of our favorite tasters, and it was time to transform duck confit into shepherd’s pie. The beauty of it is that you just have to construct the layers, assemble it and pop it into the oven to warm (for the recipe: click here). My version starts with a layer of kale, sautéed in duck fat and garlic, then a layer of shredded duck meat from the confit, topped with mashed corolla or Yukon Gold potatoes, finished with grated cheese (last night a great aged Gruyere from Murray’s) and garnished with a duck skin crackling. Because my husband had commented the last time that it would be better with some peas mixed in, I added peas to the mashed potatoes on two of the servings. As you can see, a nice artery-clogging dish (that’s why the kale, it’s a super-food).

The verdict? What’s not to like? Frank was very pleased with the addition of the peas, however “to make it perfect, the mashed potatoes needed to be creamier”. Caught me on that one, didn’t have my usual fridge full of heavy cream, crème fraiche or sour cream, so tossed some Greek yogurt in to enrich the potatoes…oops. Our friends really liked it and except for the Accidental Locavore (who had been busy earlier, making sure all the components, like the duck cracklings, tasted great), there were clean, cute, little gratin pans all around.

With some of the remaining confit, I’m going to make rilettes. The ones they serve at Artisanal are a particular favorite, so if they’re reading, or someone knows the recipe, please share! What’s your favorite way to serve or eat, duck confit?

*Shepherd’s pie has a mashed potato topping, pot pie has a traditional pie crust

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