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Duck or Goose Confit

duck confit

Photo by Hank Shaw

This is perhaps the best way to preserve and eat the legs and wings of wild geese, which can be very, tough; this also works well with wild ducks, but they are often more tender than goose legs — and they are far smaller. Confit is an old French method of slightly curing meat, then poaching it gently in fat until it is meltingly tender.

Once the meat is almost falling off the bone, you can either shred it and use it in all sorts of ways, from topping salads to filling a taco. Or you can leave the legs whole and crisp them up in a pan before you serve. Confit is also a requirement if you want to make a classic French cassoulet. A cold, confited goose leg is also a helluva thing to bring into the duck blind for a snack…

Do not use breasts for this recipe. While you can technically confit duck or goose breasts, I don’t recommend it. I like my breasts cooked medium-rare, not slow-cooked. Even in fat.

In my kitchen, I confit my ducks and geese in a SousVide Supreme Water Oven because it uses less fat than the traditional method, which involves submerging the goose in 4-5 cups of fat. You can also vacuum-seal your legs with some fat and cook them in a large stock pot with steaming — not simmering, and definitely not boiling — water. That technique requires a little more attention so the water doesn’t get too hot.

And of course you can do this the traditional way, but you will need a lot of duck fat. You can buy duck fat online, however, or at really good butcher shops.

Once made, this confit will last — sealed in its bag — for several months. It can also be frozen.

Duck or Goose confit

Serves 4-6.

Prep Time: 8 hours

Cook Time: 8 hours

  • 2-3 pounds of legs or wings of wild or domestic geese or ducks
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • Zest of a large orange or 1 tablespoon sumac
  • 1 teaspoon pink salt, A/K/A Instacure No. 1 (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ground black pepper
  • About 1/2 of a freshly grated nutmeg, or 1/2 teaspoon
  • 1 cup goose, duck or pork fat (or 5-6 cups for traditional method)
  • 3-6 bay leaves

 

It helps to have a vacuum sealer for this recipe. If you don’t have one, you should — they’re really useful! But alternative directions follow at the end of these instructions.

  1. Mix the salt, curing salt, sugar, thyme, black pepper and nutmeg together. Now mix the zest, which, as it is moist, will form clumps; keep mixing until it is well incorporated. A word on the pink salt. This is for color and preservation. It also is an extra dose of prevention during cooking, as you will be poaching in 150-170 degree water. I use it, but if you have a morbid fear of nitrates, skip it.
  2. Pack the legs and wings with the mixture. Press it into the skin and exposed meat, and make sure every part has some on it. Refrigerate for no more than 24 hours, or as little as 6 hours. The longer you go, the saltier it will get — and the longer it will preserve. If you are going for a long preservation, go for 24 hours. I typically do 8 hours.
  3. When you have cured the meat to your liking, rinse it off, then dry well. Put on a rack to dry further while you make the vacuum bags. Make 3 vacuum bags each large enough to hold 2 legs or wings for geese, or as many as duck legs as you can get in one layer. It is very important the meat is only in one layer. Divvy up the fat into the bottom of each vacuum bag. Divide up the bay leaves into each bag. A word on the fat: I use goose fat, or wild duck fat. I have enough. If you don’t you can buy duck or goose fat, render your own, use fresh lard — or even olive oil.
  4. Seal the bags and and cook sous vide at 160 degrees for 8 hours or more. If you think you have old ducks or geese, you can cook these as long as 24 hours — but that’s a little excessive. If you don’t have a sous vide water oven, place the sealed bags in a large pot (the largest you have) two-thirds filled with water that is somewhere around 150-170 degrees, which is below a simmer. Poach the legs in this stockpot for 6-12 hours, flipping every half hour or so if they float, which they probably will.
  5. Remove the bags from the water and plunge into an ice water bath to cool. Remove them to a rack to dry, and when they’re dry on the outside, store in the fridge.

IF YOU DON’T HAVE A VACUUM SEALER:

  • Rinse the cure off as above, then pat dry very, very well.
  • Totally submerge in fat — you will need 5-6 cups — and put, uncovered, in an oven set on “warm,” or not hotter than 200 degrees. Alternatively, you can do this on a stovetop with a weak burner set on low, or with a flame tamer. Watch that the oil never sizzles.
  • Cooking time will be about the same.

More Duck and Goose Recipes

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10 responses to “Duck or Goose Confit”

  1. Making Duck Confit « melissaiscooking

    [...] Duck or Goose Confit from Hunter Angler Gardener Cook [...]

  2. Homemade Pasta-Goose Confit and Ricotta Ravioli - Rhonda Adkins Photography

    [...] our confit we followed Hank Shaw’s recipe from Hunter, Angler, Gardner, Cook.  With the lack of a sous vide machine, I managed to get the same results from my crockpot.  [...]

  3. Ryan Booher

    Would this work well for wild turkey wings or legs? I know the legs are a bit tendon ridden but with spring gobbler rapidly appraoching I am trying to find a few new preperations.

  4. Myles KK

    First off Hank, I discovered your blog near the beginning of this hunting season in VT and has been indispensable since. Truly, thank you.

    In terms of confit –

    I made some confit of rabbit leg over the weekend and it worked out great. Next up is trying to do a whole rabbit. How long would you say is a good idea to leave the cure on with different parts of the animal having such different thicknesses of meat?

  5. Ted Przybocki

    I just cooked up two sets of legs / thighs from two turkeys taken on consecutive days. The big Tom I was so proud of came out a little tougher than the younger Jake. Jake was fall-apart, melt-in-your-mouth tender. No surprise, really, it’s just interesting to do a side-by-side comparison. Still very, very good, and the best method with legs and thighs and makes an excellent meal. Will use the Tom in cassoulet, and the Jake might not make it to the fridge!

  6. Cary

    Hi Hank, Wondering if you could help me with a conundrum. I was afraid I wasn’t going to have time to deal with my duck legs so I brined them to give me a bit of extra time. I was planning to make confit, but now realize I should have just packed the legs in salt. Any guess on how to proceed? Can I still pull off confit or should I try something else?

  7. nick S

    I have a conundrum. I have a big bag of Sprig legs and thighs in the freezer from last season that are loaded with fat. I want to make confit with them but the fat is inside them and I don’t have any refined duck fat left. Can I make by just leaving the fat on them or does it need to be refined. There’s so much fat on them I’m not sure how to cook them.

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