This week's featured fall recipe is a simple duck confit. This version is pared down from the original, but still requires a bit of time (the legs are cured for 24 hours, and then cooked for about 3 ½ hours). In this recipe the duck legs cook in their own rendered fat, rather than in quarts of additional fat. For someone who has never made duck confit, this will make prep and clean up a breeze.
Duck Confit with a Fig and Red Wine Sauce
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf, crumbled
8 Moulard duck legs (about 4 pounds total), rinsed and patted dry but not trimmed
12 fresh figs, halved (dried will work if soaked in water overnight)
2 cups red wine, such as Barolo
1. In a small bowl, combine salt, pepper, thyme and bay leaf pieces. Sprinkle duck generously with mixture. Place duck legs in a pan in one layer. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 hours.
2. The next day, heat oven to 325 degrees. Place duck legs, fat side down, in a large ovenproof skillet, with legs fitting snugly in a single layer (you may have to use two skillets or cook them in batches). Heat duck legs over medium-high heat until fat starts to render. When there is about 1/4 inch of rendered fat in pan, about 20 minutes, flip duck legs, cover pan with foil, and place it in oven. If you have used two pans, transfer duck and fat to a roasting pan, cover with foil and place in oven.
3. Roast legs for 2 hours, then remove foil and continue roasting until duck is golden brown, about 1 hour more. Remove duck from fat; reserve fat for sauce.
4. Add the figs and wine to roasting pan with remaining duck fat. Heat over medium until the wine has evaporated by half and the figs have softened, scraping any crusty bits from the pan into the wine.
5. Arrange duck legs on a plate and serve with the wine sauce.