The success of a confit duck leg depends on slavishly following the recipe; after all, it has been tried and tested for 400 years! By curing them in salt, you completely change the texture and flavour of the duck. The duck legs are then cooked for a long time at a low temperature in duck fat but beware - if the fat boils during the cooking process then the wonderful texture will be spoilt. You can further improve flavour and texture by leaving the duck legs in their cooking fat (refrigerated) from 2 – 3 days.
For the duck legs:
Coarse rock salt
Black peppercorns, crushed
Garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced
Bay leaves, finely-sliced
Sprigs thyme, picked
Duck fat, melted
For the beans:
Flageolet beans dried, soaked overnight
Onion, peeled, finely-sliced
Garlic, peeled, halved
Bacon, streaky, smoked, diced
Pepper, black freshly ground
Olive oil, extra virgin
Parsley, 1 small handful roughly chopped
Garlic clove, puréed
Lay the duck legs on a tray - flesh side upwards - and distribute the rock salt, crushed pepper, garlic, thyme and bay leaves evenly. Cover with cling film and marinate overnight (12 hours).
Pre heat the oven to 100°C.
Wash off the marinade and pat dry with kitchen cloth. Place the duck legs skin side down in a saucepan. Cover with the melted duck fat, place on the stove and bring the temperature to 85ºC. Cook for 2 ¼ hours in a preheated oven until the duck legs are very tender.
Using a food temperature probe, check the duck fat doesn’t go any higher than 90ºC, just under simmering point.
Once cooked, leave to cool in the fat and store in the fridge for 2-3 days, which will improve their flavour.
For the beans:
While the duck legs are cooking, drain and rinse the beans. Mix the beans and all the other ingredients in a saucepan. Gently simmer the beans on the lowest heat for 50 minutes.
Taste to see if they are perfectly cooked - the beans should be soft and melting, not powdery.
Remove the Bay leaf and thyme.
Mix in the extra-virgin olive oil, parsley and garlic.
Taste and correct the seasoning.
In a dry pan, on medium heat, crisp and colour the duck legs on the skin side for 5 – 7 minutes.
Generously spoon the beans and some of the cooking liquid into a soup bowl and top with a crispy duck leg. Drizzle over extra -virgin olive oil.