This month’s challenge was to make Duck Confit from Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn.
This month’s protein was somewhat hard to procure. Apparently, 5 lb. of duck legs just isn’t something Publix, Whole Foods, or even my butcher is really into carrying. Plenty of pre-confited legs were offered, as were the occasional whole duck and/or whole breast.
I hit the Internet in a frantic search. C’mon, people! Day 1 I looked at D’artagnan, and their prices seemed almost reasonable… Lo and behold, though their meat prices seem reasonable, shipping will double the list price and I’m not really into paying $60 for duck legs, especially when I know someone, somewhere has to carry just what I need.
Enter Marky’s Caviar.
Luckily, I happen to have an ace up my sleeve where “fancy” food is concerned. An ace I had almost forgotten about after finding it a few months ago. An ace I thought would be too expensive. Boy, was I happily wrong. Marky’s is awesome. I’ve been driving past it for the past few years, and at first didn’t realize it was open. The building sits behind a heavy metal rolling security fence, and most of the windows are papered or painted over. Then I saw a delivery truck. Yeah right, I thought. That’s got to be some sort of Russian mob front. No way we have a caviar store in Miami. And if we do, caviar is a bigillion dollars an ounce, so never mind there. As luck would have it, I just so happened to be sitting in the cafe across the street one afternoon enjoying my favorite Pan Con Bistec when I saw a happy family leaving with bags in tow. I immediately had to go check it out. boy am I glad I did. Marky’s is a frickin wonderland of all things good, all things tasty, fatty, gourmet, made by or for the cold peoples from Europe, or hard to find. And wonder of all wonders, their prices aren’t bad at all. Definitely on par with my favorite butcher/import market.
After traipsing around for half an hour or so, delighting in all the jams, jellies, charcuterie products, cheeses, fois, fish eggs, teas, spices, vinegars, oils, and other exotic fare, we settled on our duck. We managed to walk out with the perfect amount of duck, extra fat, and a baguette/cheese/salumi/roe dinner for under $100. Go us.
Not terribly difficult. The duck slowly worked its confit magic while I worked nearby, drinking in the heady aroma of duck fat. Other than taking time (2 days to thaw, 2 days to marinate and 7 hours to cook), this was a breeze. Marinate, rinse, slap in your brand new shiny enameled pot, cover with fat, and roast on the lowest your oven can go for 6+ hours. Mmmmm.. Patience.
My debut recipe for this month’s Charcuetpalooza challenge was duck tacos with a side of duck fat fried chickpeas and poblanos. I couldn’t think of anything that would balance the ducky fattiness better than green apple, and what better way to get both to our mouths at once than a taco? Tacos are awesome! Next time, I’m totally making a hash with duck fat fried potatoes. If you haven’t had duck fat fried potatoes before, they’re one of the top 10 best things on Earth.
A note about removing the duck from the fat: I’m completely sure I did this wrong. I had put the pot of confit in the fridge to set up and it didn’t dawn on me that cold fat is hard. Like, really hard. Bend your fork if you try to ice-chipper-the-duck-out-of-the-pot-with-it hard. So, I ended up gently heating the pot of confit on the stove and fishing the duck out of the warm fat. Be careful if you use this retrieval method. I then got the bright idea to switch the confit to smaller containers so I wouldn’t have to go through the same drama again, and ended up getting fat all over my kitchen. And on the dogs. So, tread carefully and it might not hurt to have a helper and/or funnel for pouring. It turns out, fat strewn about the kitchen isn’t the most pleasant thing in the world. The dogs were excited. Me, not so much.
Yum. Confit duck rocks! And I have lots of leftover fat with which to cook potatoes and all sorts of other yumminess.