Confit is an age-old method of preserving duck, goose, or other meats for winter consumption. The meat is salted and slowly simmered in its own fat. Most of the heavy fat is absorbed by the meat, leaving the meat unbelievably tender. When the confit is done, the meat is put in crocks and sealed with fat for storage.
Modern refrigeration and freezers have eliminated the need for confit as a preservation method. The taste and the unique tenderness that result from this cooking technique are what we’re after here, and the slow cooker is the perfect vehicle for delivering it. Duck lends itself readily to this recipe, as does the traditional goose.
Yield: 1½ pounds (about 3 cups) duck meat
2 whole duck breasts, split
1½ pounds rendered duck, goose, or chicken fat (see Notes)
6 garlic cloves, peeled
1 large shallot, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon dried herbes de Provence (see Notes)
SLOW COOKER SIZE: 5½ to 6 quart
Place the duck breasts in the insert of the slow cooker and add the fat, garlic, shallot, salt pepper, and herbes de Provence Cover, set the slow cooker on HGH, and cook for 1 hour. Reduce the heat to LOW and cook untill the duck is very, tender—at least 4 and up to 8 hours. Use a slotted spoon to remove the duck from the fat, which can be strained, frozen, and reused. Serve the duck hot or at room temperature, or use it to make cassoulet.
You can buy canned goose fat in gourmet food stores. If you have not accumulated your own duck or goose fat, chicken fat is perfectly acceptable.
There are three ways to get chicken fat for this recipe: You can skim congealed fat off the top of chicken soup or stock, buy it in a plastic tub from a kosher butcher, or make it yourself. To make your own, place raw chicken fat in a heavy saucepan and cook very slowly over medium-tow heat until the fat has melted, the connective tissue has darkened and crisped, and any water has evaporated. Strain the rendered fat into a bowl. Rendered chicken fat can be kept in a sealed container in the freezer for up to 6 months.
If you cannot find herbes de Provence, you can make your own by combining equal amounts of dried tarragon, rosemary, chervil, basil, and thyme leaves.