Duck Leg Confit with Flageolet Beans

Recipe from Foolproof French Cookery by Raymond Blanc.

Confit is a classic dish from southwest France. Duck legs are marinated in course salt, which completely changes their texture and flavour, then cooked very slowly in duck fat.  If the fat boils, the wonderful texture of the meat will be spoilt.

Preparation time: 35 minutes, plus marinating overnight.

Cooking time: 2 ½ hours.

Confit Duck Cassoulet 1MAINIMAGE

Ingredients Required

For the duck legs
4 Large organic or free range duck legs
30g Rock salt
1 tbsp Black peppercorns, crushed
4 Garlic cloves, finely sliced
2 Fresh bay leaves, sliced
4 Fresh sprigs of thyme, finely chopped
800g Duck (or goose) fat, melted
For the flageolet beans
250g Dried flageolet beans, soaked in cold water overnight
½ Onion, finely sliced
4 Garlic cloves, peeled and halved, and 1 garlic clove, crushed to a purée
100g Smoked streaky bacon, rind removed, diced
2 Bay leaves
4 Sprigs of fresh thyme
2 Cloves
900ml Water
2 tbsp Extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve
Small handful Fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
1 pinch Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cooking Method

Curing the duck legs

Lay the duck legs on a baking tray, flesh-side upwards, and distribute the rock salt, crushed peppercorns, garlic, bay leaves and thyme evenly over. Cover with cling film and leave to marinate in the fridge overnight. The next day, rinse the marinade off the duck legs and pat them dry with a cloth.

Cooking the duck legs

Pre-heat the oven to 140˚C/275˚F/Gas Mark 1. Put the duck legs in a large flameproof casserole, cover with the melted fat and, on a gentle heat, bring the fat to just below simmering point; there should be no bubbles breaking the surface. (If you have a thermometer, check the temperature, which should be 85˚C/190˚F). Transfer to the oven and cook, uncovered, for about 2¼ hours, until the duck legs are very tender. Leave to cool (you can leave the legs in their cooking fat in the fridge for 2-3 days, which will further improve their flavour).

Cooking the flageolet beans

Drain and rinse the soaked flageolet beans, then put them in a large saucepan with the onion, halved garlic cloves, bacon, herbs, cloves, water, 1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper and 10 pinches of salt.  Bring to the boil, skim away the impurities from the surface and then simmer on the lowest possible heat for about 50 minutes, until the beans are tender. Taste to see if they are perfectly cooked; they should be soft and melting, not powdery. Stir in the extra-virgin olive oil, parsley and crushed garlic, then taste and correct the seasoning if necessary.

Finishing the duck legs

Take the duck legs out of their cooking fat. Over a medium heat, in a dry frying pan, crisp and colour the duck legs on the skin side for 5-7 minutes, regularly pouring away excess fat.  To serve, divide the beans and some of their cooking liquid between 4 soup plates, top with the crispy duck legs and drizzle over a little extra-virgin olive oil.



Recipe from Foolproof French Cookery by Raymond Blanc, published by BBC Books.

Recipe © Raymond Blanc 2002.

Photograph © David Griffin 2014.