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Duck Confit and Sherry Pot Pie


(serves 6)
This Duck and Sherry Pie is a great festive dish for the winter season. It is quick and convenient as the Duck Confit (Cuisse de Canard Confit) will provide all the flavor that you’ll need. And the meat in Duck Confit already comes tender, so you don’t need to stew any duck for hours either. Furthermore the recipe resolves the issue of confit being overly salty by cooking the pie filling with sherry and sweet potatoes.     
 

IngredientsDuck Confit Filling

  1. Duck Leg Confit (2)
  2. Carrot (1 large)
  3. Onion (1)
  4. Sweet Potato (2)
  5. Mushrooms (100g)
  6. Peas (1/2 cup)
  7. Milk (1 cup)
  8. Sherry
  9. Mustard
  10. Flour
  11. Potato (2) – for the crust

Preparation 

  1. Peel sweet potatoes and carrot. Cut the sweet potatoes and the mushrooms into 1 inch pieces. Dice the carrot and onion into 1/2 inch cubes or pieces.
  2. Debone the duck confit. This should be an easy task as the meat is practically falling off the bone anyway. Break up the duck meat into large chunks with two forks. Gently heat the duck confit in a pot, just enough to liquefy the lard the confit comes in.
  3. Spoon 6T of the duck oil into a pan and decant the rest into a bowl or jar for storage.
  4. Place the pan on a low fire and fry the onion and carrot bits until the onion softens.
  5. Sprinkle on 2T of flour and continue to stir fry for a minute. Slowly stir in 2/3 cup of milk, followed by 1/2 cup of sherry. Next add sufficient hot water to result in thin sauce. Add the sweet potatoes and simmer for 5 minutes.
  6. Next add the mushroom, peas and duck to the pan. Sprinkle on 1t sugar, 1t mustard and 1t of black pepper. After simmering for a further 5 minutes your filling will be ready.
  7. For the crust, boil 2 large potatoes for 15 minutes, peel and then mash them with 1/3 cup milk and 2T of duck oil.
  8. Pour your pie filling into either a large baking dish or spoon into individual ramekins or gratin dishes. Cover with a layer of the mash. Bake in the oven at 180oC until the crests of the mash get brown.

Duck Confit Pie

Notes

  • For a traditional pastry type pie, skip step 7 & 8 and follow the procedure as described in my Savoury Pies Page.
  • You’ll notice that we didn’t need to use any salt, stock cubes or herbs. This is because confit is pre-marinated with herbs, garlic and a hefty amount of salt and then cooked in its own rendered lard as you will see from my Duck Confit Page, If we had used butter and flour to make the sauce instead, you’d need to add all kinds of other ingredients to get the taste right.
  • As you are not baking the duck confit directly to get a crispy skin, there is no need to buy ‘fresh’ duck confit from the grocer. Those that come in a can are perfectly fine for this recipe.
  • Some of my friends prefer to eat my duck filling with bread instead of inside a pie, as pictured at the top of the page. This is even more convenient.
  • If you would like a creamier pie, add 2T of sour cream in step 6.
 

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Cooking with Rillettes


Rillettes (pronounced Re-Yet with no S) is a French potted meat used mainly as a bread spread. The most common types of meat going into a rillettes are goose (rillettes d’oie), duck (rillettes de canard) and pork (rillettes de porc). Back in the old days, before there was electricity or refrigeration, this was one of the best ways to preserve meat without altering its texture or adding a lot of preservatives. Some people call it the peasant’s pâté since it costs a lot less than pâté de foie.   

To make rillettes, raw meat is salted and simmered with some herbs at low temperatures in lard (from the same animal) for a long time, sometimes as much as a whole day. Some recipes call for braising in stock instead of lard, but those are not the real deal. As the meat falls apart, the bones are removed. When the cooking is done the meat is strained, raked with a fork to shred it,  then allowed to cool in jars or pots. After the strained liquid is cooled, any congealed gelatine is mixed back into the meat with some of the lard. Each jar is then topped off with a thin layer of lard to the brim and sealed by placing a piece of wax paper on the lard. The meat is ready for consumption after aging for a few days in the fridge. The final product is a meat spread which contains very tender meat suspended in a matrix of lard and other natural juices. After you open a jar, you can keep it in the fridge for several weeks before it goes off. 

The purpose of this post is to tell you how to cook with rillettes, not how to cook rillettes. One of the easiest ways to cook with rillettes is to spread it on fingers of brioche (or any other kind of thick soft bread) and then toast them in a toaster oven or grill. The fat melts into the bread infusing it with flavour, and you end up with a nice meaty crust on top. I normally serve these delicious fingers of bread as hos d’oeuvres or as a matching side to duck or chicken dishes.

Rillettes can be used to sautee various types of vegetables. The natural oil and flavour of the rillettes is all you need to for the job although you may wish to add crushed garlic and pepper. For this purpose I usually use the rillettes that comes in a huge tub which you buy in scoops at the meat counter. These are cooked in the traditional farmhouse style and have a higher fat content. Have a look at my Sauteed Mushrooms recipe as a reference.

One other way you can use rillettes is in the making of meaty ragout pasta sauces. You can avoid the tedious task of simmering meat for a long time and still end up with a wholesome sauce of nice tender meat. The pre-shredded meat also sticks readily to pasta because it is of the right size. I usually use the rillettes that come in small jars on the shelf for making sauces, as they tend to have less fat. Have a look at my Duck Ragu Pasta recipe for further details.

 
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Posted by on December 22, 2011 in French, Ingredients, Poultry

 

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Duck Ragu with Pappardelle


(serves 3)
This is my abridged method of making Pappardelle with Duck Ragu. I bypass the ardous task of slow-cooking the duck by using shredded meat from duck rillette and substituting beef stock in as the base. Other than a ragu with smaller pieces of meat, its little different from what you’d expect from cooking it the traditional way.  One added benefit of not using a whole duck is that you can make the ragu in smaller manageable amounts.
 
Ingredients
  1. Duck Rillette (200g)
  2. Mixed Mushrooms (200g)
  3. Onion (0.5)
  4. Pappardelle (250g)
  5. Oxo Beef Cube (1.5)
  6. Red Wine (0.5 cup)
  7. Rosemary
  8. Tarragon
  9. Nutmeg

Preparation

  1. Add one and a half oxo cubes and 2t of rosemary to one cup of boiling water and set aside so the rosemary can infuse the stock with its flavour.
  2. Dice half an onion into very small pieces. Cut the big mushrooms, if there are any, into slices. I usually use one small and one large variety of mushroom but that’s up to you. Beech, Chanterelle, Morel and Oyster mushrooms are good options.
  3. Fry the onion bits on low heat in a pan with some olive oil. When the onion starts to soften, add the duck rillette. As the rillette softens, break it up with a spatula and then add the mushrooms.
  4. When the mushrooms begin to shrink, pour the oxo stock into the pan through a strainer to filter out the rosemary. Add half a cup of wine, 0.5t of nutmeg and 1t of tarragon, and simmer under low heat. Use a full bodied red wine if you can. When the sauce thickens, turn the heat off. You have your Ragu sauce. 
  5. Boil your pappardelle in a seperate pot of water with some olive oil and a pinch of salt. Decant when the pasta softens. If you can’t get pappardelle, use another flat pasta like fettucine or tagliatelle, or look at my lasagne solution in the notes below.
  6. Add the semi-cooked pasta to the ragu sauce. Gently stir fry on low heat after adding 3T olive oil, until the pasta is al dente. Add a bit of water if the sauce begins to dry up too much.
  7. There should be no need to add salt, sugar or any seasoning, but you can sprinkle on some black pepper before serving if you wish.

Notes

The Ragu Sauce is done when it has been reduced like this
  • This is the most simplified version of this recipe. If you want to go the extra mile and get a more distinctive ragu dish, there are three things you can try.  
  • Firstly, you can try using some dried porcini. Use the water you soaked the porcini in to make the stock instead of plain boiling water, but remember that the porcini should be soaked cold.
  • Secondly, you can also substitute Marsala wine for the red wine.
  • Thridly, you can use goose instead of duck rillette.
  • Fresh pappardelle is not easy to come by and I can’t say I have ever seen any dried ones. The way out is to use dried (un-crimped) lasagne. Break them by hand lengthwise into two and you get instant pappardelle. They won’t break evenly, which is even better as this gives a rustic charm to your dish.
  • Ragu and Ragout are both a dish made from gamey meat and chopped vegetables. Ragu is Italian and is usually cooked as a sauce. Ragout is French and is usually a stew.
 
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Posted by on September 5, 2010 in Italian, Main Courses, Pasta, Poultry, Recipe

 

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Crispy Duck Leg Confit with Wine Mustard Compote


(serves 2 and is scalable to multiples of 2)
This is an excellet main dish for more formal occasions as it is considered somewhat rare to serve this at home, at least outside of France. You will simply adore the sinfully crunchy crackling. One nice touch is that I have used both wine and mustard to subdue the heavy greasy taste inherent in both ducks and in confit. This recipe includes sliced potatoes which are cooked in the tasty drippings of the duck. 

 

  Ingredients

  1. Duck Leg Confit (2)
  2. Red Wine (0.5 cup)
  3. Onion (0.5)
  4. Potatoes (2)
  5. Carrot (1 medium)
  6. Dijon Mustard
  7. Honey
  8. Tarragon
  9. Basil
  10. Coriander Seed Powder
  11. Cardamon
  12. Paprika

Preparation

  1. Preheat your oven to 180oC (360oF). A high temperature is needed to melt away as much fat as we can.
  2. Start by cutting your potatoes into 1/4 inch discs, leaving the skin on. Arrange them on a baking tray, but under a seperate wire tray (look at picture). This way, the potatoes will be cooked shielded from direct heat.
  3. Trim away any excessive skin flaps of the duck legs and place them on the wire tray. Wrap the knuckles in foil.
  4. When the oven is pre-heated, put the tray in. You’ll be roasting  for 23-25 minutes depending on the size of your duck legs. As a guide, take the tray out 2 minutes after you see the skin browning nicely. If you are making more than 2 portions, you’ll need to bake for slightly longer.
  5. While the duck is roasting, dice your carrots and julienne your onion into small 1/4 inch bits. Then in a pan, stir-fry the bits under high heat with a knob of butter for about ten minutes. When the onion starts getting soft (but not limp) deglaze with 1/4 cup of red wine. As the wine dries up, add a second 1/4 cup of red wine and continue to heat unil the second lot of wine is reduced in volume by half. 
  6. When the duck is roasted, place the legs on inividual plates to cool slightly. Put the potatoes onto a seperate plate and dust them with paprika on one side before they dry.
  7. Put your pan of wine infused vegetable bits on low heat and spoon in 6T of the duck drippings. Stir in also, 4t dijon mustard, 1t honey, 4t chopped tarragon, 2t chopped basil,  2t coriander seed powder, 1t black pepper and 1/2t of cardamon.  When the compote has boiled for one minute after all its conponents were added, it is ready.  Depending on how rich or how wet you like the compote to be, you can use more or less of the drippings, there’ll be plenty to spare.
  8. On the seving plates, arrange your potatoes and meat and then spoon on the compote. Serve immediately. Refer to the picure below for ideas on plate arrangement.
Notes
  • Please take note. You can’t use plain duck thighs. For information on what confit is and where to get it, refer to my Cuisse de Canard Confit page.
  • You may have noticed that no salt is added in the entire recipe. This is because the duck confit and its drippings both contain sufficient salt.
  • Why does my compote contain no fruits? Same reason why there is such a thing as onion marmalade. OK, my bad.
  • While delicious, think twice before serving this to anyone who has a problem with high choelestrol.

 

 
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Posted by on January 10, 2010 in French, Main Courses, Poultry, Recipe

 

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What is Cuisse de Canard Confit?


There are many ways of preserving meat like smoking, air curing, salt drying but confit must be the most esoteric method I have come across. Confit is somewhat similar to the more common rilette except you don’t shred the meat. 

Well basically confit is meat that is marinated with salt and garlic for a few days and then poached under low heat in lard. It is then kept refrigerated and can last for several months. Confit is sold in cans but I’d recommend the ‘fresh’ type which is sold refridgerated in a vacuum pack as shown in the picure.  Outside of France ‘fresh’ confit is not all that common,  but you can normally find it at a French speciality store.

The most common meat used nowadays for confit is duck (the others being goose and pork) and the most common part of the duck used is the leg, including the thigh. If not referring to any particular part of the duck, its referred to as Canard de Confit and it its the leg, then its Cuisse de Canard Confit. Quaint language this French is.

So what’s so special about confit? Well because the salt and poaching in oil dessicates the duck, this gives us the perfect conditions for a crispy, and I might even say crunchy, skin. You’ll need a grill or a blow torch to effect this and coincidentally, because of the high fat content, you would want high temperatures to thin down the fat anyway.

A recipe using Cuisse de Canard Confit is my Crispy Duck Leg Confit with Wine Mustard Compote.

 
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Posted by on January 9, 2010 in French, Ingredients, Poultry

 

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