Accidental Locavore: One Man’s Comfort Food is Another’s Confit

by Anne Maxfield on December 16, 2011

Accidental Locavore Duck Confit with Polenta

Silken legs turning into succulent thighs. A Rockette? No, how about the duck confit the Accidental Locavore made the other night? This was so good that once I started crisping them up, I started tasting them and once I started tasting them…

The secret? Sous-vide. If you’re not familiar with sous-vide, it’s a way of cooking something for a long time in simmering water. Think sophisticated boil-in-a-bag, but oh, so much better!

To start: the Locavore prepared a couple of duck legs with a dry rub and let them sit overnight in the fridge. The next day, after a quick peek at Thomas Keller’s Under Pressure: Cooking Sous Vide, I rinsed them thoroughly, patted them dry and put them in a vacuum bag with a nice coating of duck fat. Vacuum sealed them and put them in a water bath in my slow cooker. Eight hours later, tender to the touch, they were done.

The next night for dinner, I crisped up my duck leg (nibbling all the while). While that was cooking, I made some polenta with some local stone ground corn meal. To add a note of bitterness to the meal and maybe a bit of healthy eating, the Locavore steamed some broccolini (wanted broccoli rabe, but there was none to be found in three local markets, what’s up with that?) and after the duck was nicely crisped, tossed the broccolini  in the pan with the remaining fat and some sliced garlic for a couple of minutes.

The result? Amazing! There was the lusciousness of the duck against the great texture of the polenta, with the slight bite of the broccolini. Cooking it sous-vide really brought the texture of the confit to another level. The last batch I made was good, but didn’t have the melt-in-your-mouth scrumptiousness of this one. Another advantage? It didn’t take nearly as much duck fat as the traditional way and when it was done and cooled, the fat and the jelly part (needed for rillettes, stay tuned) separated cleanly.

What’s next? Certainly more duck confit! But now the Accidental Locavore is really curious to play with some more food sous-vide. Anyone out there have any sous-vide favorites?

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Doug December 17, 2011 at 12:36 pm

Two questions ‘L’… Where did you get the duck fat? (from the duck??) and what
method did you use to crisp up the duck? Thanks so much. You’re doing well.

Anne Maxfield December 17, 2011 at 1:11 pm

I had a ton of duck fat from a previous batch of confit done the conventional way that I’d ordered from D’Artagnan. The advantage of doing it sous-vide was that it only takes a couple of tablespoons of fat. To crisp it, I just sautéed it in a non-stick pan, skin side up to start just so some of the remaining fat would render. Then I flipped it and cooked it until the skin was browned and crisp (by which time I’d nibbled off most of the drumstick!).

Scott December 18, 2011 at 6:49 am

This is inspiring… I want to sous-vide so bad now ….

Anne Maxfield December 18, 2011 at 8:35 am

I did it in the slow cooker.

dusty December 21, 2011 at 3:04 pm

I’m a bit lame right now, so I’m using a cane, and it magically reminds me of one of my absolutely favorite chapters in IT’S ALL ABOUT AGING — the witty but wise one about Cane Fu!
I love duck thighs, and can’t wait to learn sous-vide, but today’s innocently thrilling overall title — Since When do you have to be Hungry to Eat? — made me incredibly happy, just reading that question, and I hereby BEG you to write a whole essay answering it in 2012!!!!!?????!!!!!!!! Thanks!

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