Sous Vide: Duck Leg Confit–Smoked

Using sous vide to prepare duck confit may create an uproar among traditionalists. Smoking it will serve only to intensify the controversy.


Duck legs, as needed, approximately 10 oz./280 grams each.
Kosher salt, 12 grams per lb./450 g–approximately 2 teaspoons.

Garlic cloves, fresh, smashed, as needed.
Whole peppercorns, approximately 10 each per leg.
Bay leaves, 1 each per leg.









Optional components:
Sweet potatoes, as needed, sous vide processed at 183 F/84 C for 60 minutes and shocked cold in iced water.
Baby red oak lettuce, a few spears from the inside.
Pears, one per person, peeled and sous vide processed with a pinch of salt and a Tablespoon of sugar at 183 F/84 C for 40 minutes. After processing, chill the package in iced water and set aside.
Great Northern/Cannelini beans, cooked (or canned), 0.5 cups/person.
Carrots, diced fine, 1 Tablespoon per person.
Garlic, chopped fine, 1 teaspoon per person.
Parsley, chopped, as needed.
Radish, 1 slice per person.
Parsnips, 1 each.


Above: Lipavi C20 container, N20 polycarbonate rack. Lipavi C20L lid.

Actual prep time, 1 hour
Level of difficulty: 3
Serves 1 per leg


Apply kosher (non-iodized) salt to the duck legs in the amount of 18g (2 teaspoons) per pound (450 g). Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours. Drain well and pat dry.

Preheat the sous vide bath to 183 F/84 C.

Place the leg(s) in pouches with bay leaves, a few peppercorns and cloves of garlic. For important information about the use of fresh garlic in sous vide, visit HERE. Vacuum seal the legs in heat rated plastic, load into a rack and submerge fully into the bath.

Process at 183 F/843 C for 4 hours initially. This will ensure that the garlic in the bag is fully denatured. It also accelerates the rendering process. Lower the temperature in the bath to 155 F/68 C and continue processing for 24 hours.

After processing, chill the sealed package(s) in iced water until 70 F/21 C is achieved. Refrigerate at 40 F/4 C. Pasteurization will be maintained as long as the seal is not broken. The duck legs can remain safely refrigerated in this state for at least two weeks.

Remove the package from the refrigerator and dip in a hot bath long enough to melt the gel inside the package–usually about five minutes.

Empty the package onto a deep plate or other suitable container.

To the juices add 1 cup of water and a teaspoon of powdered egg white. Process the juices as explained HERE and strain. Set aside for the time being.

Dust the duck legs with powdered egg white and moisten with a few drops of water to create a sticky surface.

Sprinkle the duck legs with preferred spices–we used fennel seeds and cracked black pepper. Since the legs were semi-cured with kosher salt, there is none in the seasoning mix.


Set the smoker at 180 F/82 C or the lowest possible setting above that. Stage the legs into a wire rack so that air can circulate below them. If a smoker is not available, the legs can be oven roasted @225 F/107 C for one hour.

Smoke the legs for four hours. While you wait, set your kitchen oven on the “warm” setting. Drain the cooked beans. Combine them with the liquid and 1 oz of carrot chopped fine and a pinch of garlic. Bring to a boil, taste for seasoning and keep warm in the oven.

Remove the pears from the package, pat dry, and fry in 1 Tablespoon of butter until brown. Keep warm in the oven. Cut the sweet potato into desired shapes and heat in 1 teaspoon butter with 1 teaspoon sugar. Keep warm in the oven.

Use a mandolin to cut thin strips of the parsnip–do not peel. Deep fry at 350 F/176 C until crisp. Drain well and set aside to use as garnish.

French the duck if desired by removing the skin from the last inch of the leg. Cut the leg in half at the joint. Serve as shown (or as desired!).

Norm King

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If it wasn't for the superlative results of this effort, I would have hesitated to endure the resistance it is bound to encounter. But any protein that can be roasted, fried or crisped can benefit from a little smoke, no?