Thomas Keller

Accidental Locavore Duck ConfitSilken 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: I 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.

Accidental Locavore Duck Confit With PolentaThe 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?