Nigel Slater’s confit of duck
It looks mean, I know, just one piece of duck per person, but it is really all you need. I eat it two ways, either with potatoes cooked in the duck fat or at room temperature in a salad. Strip the meat and crisp skin from the bones, tear into jagged shards and toss with a green salad you have dressed with a sharp vinaigrette.
a large duck, about 1.5–1.75kg
Maldon sea salt 3 tbsp
bay leaves 3 or 4
thyme a few sprigs
duck fat about 750g
Put the duck flat on a chopping board and using a large, heavy knife cut the bird into six or eight pieces. Cut away the backbone and the wing tips and either discard them or add them to your next stockpot. Place the pieces in a shallow stainless steel or glass dish and rub salt into them. Grind over some black pepper, tuck in the bay leaves and sprigs of thyme then leave in a cool place for a good 5 or 6 hours, or even overnight. The longer you leave it the stronger the flavour will be.
Set the oven on low, at 150C/gas mark 2. Wipe the salt off the duck with kitchen paper then place the pieces snugly into a flameproof dish. I use a cast-iron casserole. Place the pan over a very low heat and leave the duck to colour lightly, turning it once to do the other side. Expect this to take a good 15 minutes or so.
Cover the duck with the duck fat (if you are intending to keep the duck for more than a day or two, the fat must cover the duck completely). Add a further grinding of pepper and tuck in the salvaged thyme and bay. Put it into the oven and leave it to quietly roast for 90 minutes to 2 hours. Remove the pan from the oven and leave to cool.
You can keep the duck like this, in a very cool place for several days, longer if it is properly covered and there are no air pockets. (Banging the dish on the table will help.)
Serve the confit either in the oven or on the hob. I must say I prefer the former. To roast, set the oven at 200C/gas mark 6. Wipe off most, but not quite all of the fat, then put the duck pieces on a baking tray. Roast them for about 15 minutes till the skin is crisp. If you prefer, you can fry the duck pieces in a shallow pan for about 10-15 minutes till warm right through and the skin has crisped.