Sous Vide: Duck Leg Confit

Modernizing this rustic French culinary workhorse is bound to raise purists' eyebrows. Order is usually restored once results are compared.

Ingredients

Duck legs, as needed. For this demonstration, we used 9 Muscovy drake legs, approximately 10 oz./280 grams each.
Kosher salt, 12 grams per lb./450 g–approximately 2 teaspoons.

Garlic cloves, fresh, smashed, 9 each.
Whole peppercorns, approximately 10 each per leg.
Bay leaves, 1 each per leg.

 

 

Optional components:
Beets, 1 each, sous vide processed at 183 F/84 C for 90 minutes and shocked cold in iced water.
Romaine lettuce, a few spears from the inside.
Blackberries, as needed.
Mandarin orange wedges, as needed.
Cranberry sauce puree, a few drops.
Glace de Viande, or equivalent, a few drops.

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

Level of difficulty: 2.75
Serves 1 per leg

Procedure:

Apply kosher 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, each with a bay leaf, a few peppercorns and a clove 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. This will fully denature the garlic in the bag. It also accelerates the rendering process. Lower the temperature in the bath to 155 F/68 C and continue processing for 24 hours.

Once the interval has elapsed, cold shock 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–no more than five minutes should be required.

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

Clarify the juices as explained HERE and set aside for future use.

Use the broiler function of the oven to heat the leg and crisp the skin.

Remove the beet from the sous vide pouch and peel the skin by rubbing gently with a towel, wet or dry. Slice into desired shape and pat dry. Carefully place on the plate and do not move it to avoid color transference. Tip: set the towel aside, it will be heavily stained.

Drizzle the sauces.

Cut the leg in half, lay the thigh flat on the plate, dip the leg joint into the cranberry sauce and lean it against the thigh.

Drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil on the beet and sprinkle with desired seasonings.

and there you have it!

Norm King

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About

Utilizing sous vide to re-interpret an iconic dish always invites controversy. None more so than duck confit. The original version is earnestly slow poached in its own fat. More fat is added to the pan to make sure the leg is fully submerged and protected from exposure to air. The intention is to fully render the Moulard's leg.

This makes the use of sous vide seem antithetical at first. After all, the low temperatures used in sous vide processing tend to minimize the loss of fat. Sealing the duck's leg in the sous vide pouch mitigates the contradiction and creates the effect of submersion in oil. The oxygen free environment allows the leg itself to provide a sufficient coating of oil.