Posts Tagged ‘Food in Jars’

Surprisingly manageable duck confit

28 April 2017


‘Why on earth make duck confit in the first place?’ Fair question. ‘Why on earth make duck confit again?’ Even more to the point. And again?! Because there is a happy ending.

Many moons and about a decade ago I made duck confit. Why? Well, I was in New York, where confit duck is not, as in France, available on every supermarket shelf. I must have been in an experimental mood. And I certainly had no idea what I was getting myself into. As I remember the experience — faintly (the worst ones fade) — I see endless vats of rendering, handling, splashing, filtering duck fat (it was actually probably goose fat). It took hours, days, perhaps weeks? In the end the thighs were much too salty.

And yet, I did it again. — Why?


Perhaps because so much time had gone by that I had glossed over the experience? Because I was again/still in a country where duck confit is somewhat elusive? Because I don’t like to leave things on a frustrating experience?

Because in April Bloomfield’s book A Girl and Her Pig there is a duck confit recipe that fits on one page.

It works. It’s not that hard. It’s worth the adventure.


Duck confit recipe from A Girl and Her Pig by April Bloomfield adapted for 6 duck legs. The process takes 2 days and is best made some time in advance.

36 peppercorns
36 juniper berries
8 dried pequin chilies or pinches of red pepper flakes
1/2 small cinnamon stick
Small handfull fresh thyme
10 medium garlic cloves
1/3 cup coarse sea salt
6 duck legs
About 1.4 kg duck (or goose) fat

In a mortar, crush together the peppercorns, juniper, chilies, and cinnamon. There should be fine and coarse bits. Add the thyme leaves picked from the stems and the garlic and crush some more to obtain a coarse paste. In a small bowl, mix the spice mixture with the salt.

Place the duck legs in a shallow dish and rub the salt/spice mixture all over the legs. Cover with plastic wrap and leave in the refrigerator overnight.

The next day, very slowly heat the fat in a small pot that will perfectly fit the duck legs (I used a 10″/25cm pot). Rinse the duck legs and pat them dry with a paper towel, then carefully put the legs in the fat. The legs must be completely submerged — if they are not, use  a smaller pot or add a bit more fat. Cook on extremely low heat for about 2 1/2 hours. There should be barely a simmer. Adjust the heat as necessary.

Remove the pot from the heat and leave the duck legs in the fat to cool completely before placing in the refrigerator, covered with a lid. The legs submerged in fat will keep for a few weeks.

When ready to eat, remove the legs from the congealed fat, and carefully scrape off as much of the fat as possible. Thoroughly heat a heavy skillet/frying pan, add a few generous spoonfuls of the duck fat, and fry the legs over high heat, skin side down, until deliciously crispy. Turn around and fry the other side of the legs too. Serve immediately.

Crispy duck confit is best served with roasted potatoes and a salad of bitter greens (traditionally frisée, but also escarole, radicchio, arugula, etc…).

Quick pickles

29 September 2012

The bounty of fall, the joy of coming home after a summer away; it’s the time of year when I am overrun by the desire to cook, pickle, and can, buy way too many fruits and vegetables at the market, and usually only barely manage to rescue them, in extremis, days and sometimes weeks later, and turn them into whatever easy preserve I come across that day. Despite my determination, every year, to squirrel away a veritable pantry of homemade goods for the winter, my canning endeavors are completely haphazard. This year for example I made a few versions of this jam every time there were too many excess plums on the brink. I made a quart of tomato sauce with a few extra pounds of overripe tomatoes. I studded a cake with practically fermenting concord grapes.

But one recipe I was determined to make, the instant I saw it, was Kitchen Culinaire’s peach and lavender jam. At one market on Tuesday I found peaches from upstate New York which evolved from rock hard to mealy soft without a whiff of peach in between. On Saturday I went to look for the seller of West Virgina peaches at the Mount Morris Park market that inexplicably and without a word moved blocks away to the corner of Lenox and 122nd. This producer sells hands down the best peaches I’ve ever eaten in New York, and I wish I’d known of the market’s move sooner in the season. This Saturday I went and bought many many many pounds of peaches, heaved them home, and didn’t make any jam. When, after years of peach frustration, one finally finds fruit that is all that a peach used to be, so long ago, the only thing to do is to eat it just so.

For days we ate peaches, with nothing more than a little Greek yogurt and light drizzle of honey. But I was on a mission, I had to make this jam, so I rescued the last three sweet juicy pounds and proceeded to infuse the lavender, cut the fruit, weigh the sugar, and set the jam to simmer. It smelled incredible, so fragrant and delicate, like a summer in Provence. And then I overcooked it. Beginner’s mistake, bad planning, distracted multi-tasker, I had to stop the cooking to pick up Balthasar from school, when I started it again I was giving Louise a bath and suddenly the jam wasn’t golden brown anymore but deep brown with sparkly foam, the scent of lavender entirely replaced by peach caramel…

Today I rushed out to buy peaches and make jam immediately; there were none, the farmer’s market replaced by a small flea. And so, even with the very best intentions, this year I didn’t manage the one jam that I had set out to do. And despite my best intentions, this post will not be about peach lavender jam.

It’s about pickles. It happened by chance. I saw kirby cucumbers at the market, bought some with no plan in mind; days later when it was high time to use them, I went to this great resource for all things in jars, found this recipe, made it. It’s great.


Slightly adapted from Asian-Inspired Quick Pickles by Food in Jars. One-pint Mason jars are the perfect height for these pickles. Makes 2 one-pint jars.

2 one-pint Mason jars
4 or 5 kirby (small pickling) cucumbers
1 chili pepper
1/2 small red onion or 3-4 scallions
2 garlic cloves
4 small sprigs fresh mint
4 small sprigs fresh coriander
1 cup rice wine vinegar
Juice from 2 limes
2 Tbsps sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt


Cut each cucumber into six spears. Cut the chili pepper in two lengthwise. Thinly slice the onion (or peel the scallions, cut then into kirby-length pieces, and slice them lengthwise) and garlic cloves. Wash the mint and coriander.

Dividing the ingredients equally between the two jars, pack the cucumber spears and slide in the chili pepper, onion (or scallions), garlic, mint and coriander.

In a small bowl, stir together the rice wine vinegar, lime juice, sugar, and salt. Pour the liquid over the cucumbers, close tightly, and carefully invert the jars to combine all the flavors.

Let the pickles sit in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours before eating.

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