If you are unsure what “confit” means, it is a French cooking method where the meat is first cured using salt to draw out the moisture, then it is cooked in its own fat to preserve it and make it tender. Here we will be cooking duck legs confit using sous vide cooking.
The reason that you need to use a confit method is because duck legs are a lot tougher than duck breasts. If you were to use a conventional method of cooking the duck legs you would need a great deal of duck fat. With suvee cooking you only require a small amount of duck fat to achieve the same result.
It will probably surprise you to know that there are very little “texture gains” to be had cooking duck legs confit sous vide over conventional methods. The difference is the amount of fat that you need. You can have tender ducks legs at 144°F (62°C) but if you are looking for a more traditional texture then go for 180°F (82°C).
So for this recipe you will be curing the duck legs first (you will need to cure these for several hours). Duck fat (or vegetable cooking oil) will then be added to the duck legs prior to cooking them sous vide. You will use a lot less fat cooking your duck legs sous vide which is much healthier.
Ingredients Required For Sous Vide Duck Legs Confit
You will need 2 whole duck legs
A tablespoon of kosher salt
A tablespoon of whole black peppercorns
3 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
0.5 cup of duck fat (you can use vegetable oil as an alternative)
Salt and pepper for seasoning
Preparing And Cooking Your Sous Vide Duck Confit
The first stage is curing the ducks legs, which is best done the day before as you will need a fair amount of time for them to cure properly. Mix up the kosher salt, thyme and black peppercorns.
You will want to pack this salt cure around the ducks legs as evenly as possible. It is recommended that you use an 18% ratio of cure to duck leg weight here. So if you have one pound or 500 grams of duck legs, you will need 3 ounces or 90 grams of the cure mix.
You will read different opinions about vacuum sealing the cured duck legs, and how long you should refrigerate them for. Vacuum sealing will help to facilitate the curing process, and we recommend refrigeration for 24 hours. Check out our vacuum sealer reviews.
Once your ducks legs have cured, you can remove them from the sealed bags and prepare them for cooking. Pat the legs down to remove the excess salt and dry them with paper towels.
Fill your water bath and set the desired cooking temperature.
Use one or two cooking bags (either sous vide bags or zip lock bags) and add the ducks legs. Include the duck fat (or vegetable oil) and the bay leaves to the bag(s). Use water immersion to expel the air or vacuum seal the bag(s).
Place the bag(s) into the water bath and cook for 12 hours.
After the cooking time has finished, remove the bag(s) and take out the duck legs. Add salt and pepper to season at this point.
Now you will want to brown the ducks legs in a skillet on medium to high heat for around five minutes. Place the ducks legs in the skillet skin side down, and cook until brown. Serve immediately.
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