We had to cull some of our male Muscovy ducks a couple months ago, and let me tell you, that was quite an experience! You really are supposed to butcher ducks for meat at about 10-12 weeks of age both for meat quality and ease of plucking the duck. Well, our ducks were about a year old, so they were NOT easy to pluck… or catch… or anything. Our dear friends came and helped us, and added lots of laughter to what would have otherwise been an extremely stressful, tiring day.
Needless to say, I was concerned that the meat would be rather tough so I went online to find a good way to cook old… ahem, mature… duck. Now, Muscovy duck is not as fatty as most kinds of duck, so you have to make sure that your recipe accounts for that. I’ve heard Muscovy duck meat compared to beef several times, and I actually have used the breast with the skin removed in place of steak strips in some recipes, and no one in my family seems to notice the difference. Now for the rest of the duck… I came across several recipes for Duck Confit (pronounced [kɔ̃fi] or con-fee) that mentioned using tougher birds, and all of them raved about how amazing it was, so I decided that is what I must try.
Let me tell you something. DUCK CONFIT IS AMAZING! It might look complicated, but it’s not. It’s super simple and easy, but you do have to plan ahead a little. I combined this recipe and this method to make my duck confit. I rendered all the duck fat I could get from the 5 ducks we had in the freezer, and it was just over a pint of fat. Those Muscovys were in shape, let me tell ya. But after reading that you can substitute olive oil for the duck fat, I decided to give it a whirl. The second time I made it I used refined coconut oil instead of olive oil because it maintains its health properties even when heated. Here is the French Four Spice Blend recipe I used. You can really be creative with the flavors you use to cure your duck for confit. Here is another gorgeous photo and flavor idea for duck confit. One of my favorite things about duck confit is that you can store it in the fridge for as long as you want, and it only gets better! You can take it out and heat it up for an impromptu meal in just a few minutes, or use it to make a number of delicious French dishes. For me, the best part is that it’s really hard to mess up or burn and it stores really well. 🙂
Here is what I ended up doing:
Duck Confit Recipe
Duck legs, thighs, and wings (I used about 8 total)
Enough rendered duck fat, olive oil, and/or coconut oil to cover meat completely. I used about 2 quarts.
For the dry marinate:
- 3 Tbsp French Four Spice (see recipe below)
- 3 Tbsp fine sea or pink salt
- 4 cloves garlic
- Mix ingredients of dry marinate in small bowl. Rub each piece of duck liberally with mixture and place in a covered bowl in the fridge. Allow to marinate for 12-48 hours.
- Remove duck from fridge and rinse off the seasonings thoroughly. You don’t want little bits of garlic burning in your oil.
- Pat dry and place in an oven safe Dutch oven (I like to use my cast iron Dutch oven). Layer the pieces as needed.
- Pour fat and oil over duck until it is completely covered. Don’t worry, you will not get fat from eating confit. DO NOT try to use canola or any other cheap, “low fat” oil.
- Bring to a simmer over medium high heat, then place uncovered in 180° oven for 6 to 10 hours or overnight.
- Cover and store in the refrigerator up to a month.
- When you are ready to use your duck, take it out of the refrigerator, and brown in a 425° oven or brown in a skillet on the stove top till skin is crispy.
French Four Spice Blend Recipe
- 1 Tablespoon white pepper (you can use black pepper in a pinch)
- Rounded 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon grated nutmeg (you can use a little less of ground nutmeg if you don’t want to deal with grating nutmeg)
- Blend together.
- Store in airtight container.
- Makes about 2 Tablespoons (so you will need to at least double this recipe to have enough for the confit recipe above).