I got the chance the other day to cook some duck. I have been wanting to for some time now, but have not been able to find any. I found some recently at a Ranch Market 99 in the Freemont area. I have never cooked duck before and have only eaten Peking Duck on a few occasions.
I am calling this Confit Duck. I am not sure if there is some distinction between slow cooked duck legs and confit duck. If there is please let me know and I can correct what I am calling it.
Above are the duck legs I purchased for what I think is a reasonable price for only purchasing two.
I made a brine with 4 cups of water(double shown in the picture) and 3 oz of salt. This should give me about a 10 percent solution. 32oz of water to 3oz of salt. Close enough for me.
Duck legs go into the brine for around 3 hours. After brining the legs are removed and rinsed under tap water.
The legs are sprinkled with salt and pepper and then vacuum sealed. As seen in the pictures, I always double seal both the top and bottom of the vacuum bags. I find it adds a few extra seconds on creating the pouch, but I have yet to loose vacuum. For long term meat storage in my chest freezer I usually triple seal the bags. I have lost vacuum with double seals in my chest freezer due to handling of the packages.
The vacuumed sealed duck legs then go into the hot water bath. Bath is set to 176F. As show in the pictures, the water circulator is removed. I melted a cover of the pump the last time I took it above 150F. Pump still works, but I avoid temperatures above 150F. Circulation of the water suffers. I am still looking for a low cost solution to water circulation at high temperatures.
Since there is not a water circulator the temperature varies throughout the vessel. I am not very concerned due to the high temperature and long cooking time. Throughout the cooking I stop by and stir the water help even out the water temperature.
After 15 hours, the duck legs are more than done. I was aiming for more than 12 hours, and lunch came at the 15 hour mark.
There is a lot more liquid in the bag after cooking. Much of this is duck fat. Unfortunately, I did not have any ideas what to do with this, so it went in the trash once solidified.
As shown the legs a pale tan color after cooking.
A few seconds with the blow torch fix this, adding crispiness to the skin.
The meat was very tender and not at all mushy. 15 hours was a very good cooking time. I would not go much shorter and a few hours longer would not have hurt.
As I have read the duck has a much more rich and full flavor than chicken. The legs did end up a bit salty, even for my tastes. I think this is caused by the 10% brine solution. Next time I would try a 5% solution. It also might not be necessary to salt the meat before vacuum sealing, but overall a very good dish.
Final Score: 6 out of 10