- 6 cumin seeds
- 12 coriander seeds
The small, creamy brown seeds of the coriander plant give dishes a warm, aromatic and slightly…
- 3 juniper berries
- 50g flaky sea salt
- 6 duck leg and thigh joints
- 1 small bunch thyme
This popular herb grows in Europe, especially the Mediterranean, and is a member of the mint…
- 1 rosemary branch
Rosemary's intense, fragrant aroma has traditionally been paired with lamb, chicken and game…
- 1 unpeeled garlic clove, sliced, plus 1 whole garlic bulb, halved
- about 500g goose or duck fat, or enough to totally submerge the duck legs
Rich and full of flavour, duck meat is extremely nutritious, with high levels of protein, B…
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tsp black peppercorns
The day before cooking, put the cumin and coriander seeds in a dry pan and toast until they are slightly coloured and aromatic. Remove to a board and crush them with the blade of a knife. Crush the juniper berries and mix with the spices and the salt. Rub the mixture over the duck, scatter with thyme, rosemary and sliced garlic and chill for 24 hrs, turning two or three times as they marinate.
Next day, heat oven to 150C/130C fan/ gas 2. Wipe the duck with kitchen paper and pat dry, but don’t wash off the marinade. (The salt extracts the water from the meat cells, which will be reinflated with fat as the duck cooks gently. If you wash it, you will simply reinflate the cells with water.)
Put the duck in a cast-iron casserole and cover with the goose fat or duck fat. Add the bay leaves and peppercorns and cook for about 2½ hrs, or until the meat is almost falling away from the bone. You can store the duck very simply by placing it in a pudding bowl, covering it with the fat and keeping it in the fridge: as long as it stays covered with fat it will last for weeks.
To cook, remove the confit duck legs from their fat. Put an ovenproof frying pan on the stove until it is hot. Add the duck legs, skin-side down, and cook for 4 mins. Turn the legs and transfer the pan to the oven for 30 mins, until crisp.
Confiting, or cooking and preserving in fat, is a classic method of preserving meat, from before the days of refrigeration. The process gives meat the most fabulous texture and flavour. Confit duck legs are particularly worth the wait – cooked long and slow in duck fat flavoured with aromatic herbs until meltingly tender, preserved in that fat, then roasted quickly until crisp and golden. Duck legs are also great value compared to breasts.