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Whenever I go to a French Restaurant for dinner I often choose the Duck Confit as a main dish. It always tastes so decadent, I love the melt in your mouth meat and the crispy skin but it seemed like a tough dish to cook. I did a bit of research online and in my cookery books and realised that it just sounded more complicated than it actually was. I also didn’t see why I couldn’t make a Slow Cooker Duck Confit to simplify the process even more. Also, I’m loving pomegranate everything at the moment so i decided to try making a Pomegranate Molasses to use as a sauce for the duck.
So on to the duck… Normally for this recipe you would just use duck legs but when I went shopping there was an entire duck on special offer. It was just too good a deal to pass up, so I bought the whole duck and decided to confit every bit of it. Unfortunately, you can’t confit a duck in its entirety (or maybe you could but it wouldn’t fit in my slow cooker) so the first step is to butcher it to remove the legs, breasts and wings.
Butchering the duck
Disclaimer: I’ve never butchered anything in my life, so if I can, you can too!!
I followed this Youtube video and actually it was much simpler than I expected. To start with, make sure you remove the bag from inside the bird containing the gizzards! Then, with a very sharp knife, slice through the skin between the thigh and the back. Bend the leg back until you hear a pop (the socket breaking) and then using a sharp knife, slice through the joint to remove the leg. Repeat for the other side
Run the sharp knife down one side of the breastbone to cut the skin. Then, using long sweeping strokes, make cuts into the meat. Try to stay as close to the bone as possible to ensure you get as much of the meat off as possible. Continue cutting downwards and outwards until the breast comes away from the carcass. Repeat for the other side.
Using the sharp knife, cut through the bones that join the wings to the bird to remove the wings.
I was actually quite impressed with my efforts after I’d finished, there definitely wasn’t much meat left behind, but I don’t think any butchers in the Bloomsbury area need to worry about their jobs!
I chose to roast the duck carcass in the oven at 180C for about 90 mins to render the fat from it to use in the final dish (waste not want not) and then if you really want to be frugal you can boil the duck carcass up with some veggies to make a stock or bone broth.
Once you have your joints ready, rub the salt and 4 of the garlic cloves (sliced) all over the duck and place in a dish. Add the bay leaves and half of the thyme, cover with cling film and allow the meat to cure overnight (at least 12 hours) in the fridge, in the salt and herbs.
Confiting the Duck
When you are ready to confit the duck, rinse the salt and herbs off of the meat and pat it dry.
Pour the fat into the slow cooker (add the rendered fat from the carcass too if you have that) along with the rest of the thyme and the garlic (sliced). Add the duck, making sure that every part of the duck is submerged. You don’t want any part of it sticking out from underneath the fat. Turn the slow-cooker onto high and then leave the duck confiting in the oil for 3-4 hours (closer to 4 is better). When you remove it, the meat should feel tender and like it would come off the bone if you applied any pressure to it.
Preserving the Slow Cooker Duck Confit
At this point you can halt the cooking process and keep the duck legs for another time if you preserve them correctly. Transfer them to a clean dish and pour over the fat so that they are completely submerged. Then place outside or wait until it has cooled enough to put the dish into the fridge. Once the fat has set around the meat you will be able to keep the duck legs for up to six months in the fridge. You could always cook more duck legs than you need and then serve some and keep some for another time.
Cooking the Duck
Once you are ready to cook the duck, heat the duck fat in a frying pan until it is very hot. Place the pieces of duck in the pan (skin side down for the breasts, fry both sides for the legs) and fry to crisp up the skin and warm the meat through (about 5 minutes) and then it’s ready to serve.
I drizzled over some of my Pomegranate Molasses and served it with my Cauliflower Mash and some Pan-Fried Spinach and Mushrooms with Garlic and topped the whole thing off with some pomegranate seeds. If you can eat potatoes, I’m sure they would be absolutely heavenly cooked in some of the left over duck fat! So tasty!
The meat was so tender and just fell off the bone and when paired with the crispiness of the skin it was a seriously impressive dinner. It went so well with the Pomegranate Molasses too which was sweet and sharp at the same time. It’s easy to see why duck is usually paired with some kind of fruit as in Duck a l’Orange or Duck with Hoisin (plum) sauce. The acids in the fruit cut through the fattiness in the duck really well and balance the whole dish out so it doesn’t feel too heavy.
Usually, it’s only the legs that are confited but i was surprised at how well it worked with the breasts as well. However, It definitely wasn’t worth confiting the wings though – there just wasn’t enough meat on them to make it worthwhile. I’d just use them in a stock or roast them with the carcass to render extra fat from them. Slow Cooker Duck Confit turned out to be a much easier dish than I imagined but it does look very impressive – definitely looks like you’ve been slaving away in the kitchen for hours. In fact, the slow cooker does everything for you and you just need to do the 5 minutes of pan frying at the end. Definitely a meal for a special evening in or even one to impress your guests at a dinner party. I promise they’ll never guess how easy it is to prepare!
Allergy & Dietary Information for Slow Cooker Duck Confit with Pomegranate Molasses
This recipe is Dairy-Free, Grain-Free, Gluten-Free & Refined-Sugar Free. It’s also suitable for Paleo, Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD), Whole30 and Low Carb Diets.
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