Thursday, 27 November 2008

Can Do Canard

Today I started the process of turning unappealing legs of fatty duck into mouth watering, tender delicacies of preserved meat.
I have, over the years, collected many variant recipes for Confit de Canard, all similar in important processes, the salt, and all alternating in the mix of herbs and spices chosen for the pickle mix. My favourites always include thyme, rosemary and bay because they come free five foot from the kitchen door. Next come what the French call quatre épices (1 heaped tablespoon of black peppercorns 2 teaspoons whole cloves, 2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg, 1 tsp ground ginger) and today, a few allspice berries, why not? Always garlic is added and often juniper and some of my own savory salt (winter savory ground with sea salt and dried). After crushing and pounding this lot in the pestle it starts to get more hands on. Wearing nursey gloves I massage this sensually intoxicating paste well into every crevice of duck. Refrigerate. For the next two or three days, I turn and occasionally rub humming as I go, happy in my work. On the last day what is left of the pickle mix is randomly brushed off and the legs dried and covered by an inch of duck or goose fat and popped into the simmer oven of the Aga. Four hours later you can bottle them or eat or both as there is little point in going though the whole rigmarole if you’re making less than a dozen. And damned fine they are to, no comparison to the bought variety. Above is a snap of the altar on which these legs are sacrificed. A nice pomerol is also offered up. Chin-chin.

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