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Jul 24, 2006 08:11 PM

Using Duck Fat [Split from S.F. thread]

5 lbs of raw duck fat is a lot. Other than confit, what do you use it for? What is the difference between raw duck fat and rendered duck fat?

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  1. I use rendered duck fat for confit, pates, and just for flavoring. I try to save some money by buying whole duck and rendering the fat from that. I don't really know what you would do with raw duck fat aside from throwing it into something else for flavor - you need to be able to pour the fat to cover the confit.

    4 Replies
    1. re: coolbean98

      Potatoes fried in duck (or goose) fat are delicious!

      1. re: pikawicca

        Oh God, yes! George Morrone frequently made french fries fried in duck fat and they were fantastic!

        1. re: chaddict

          Some one linked to Robert Lauriston's web site for a different recipe and lo and behold! A recipe for duck fat potatoes:

        2. re: pikawicca

          I kept some of the goose fat in my freezer from over a month ago. I usually freeze leftover fat in a container before tossing it out. Are you saying that I could use this leftover now to fry potatoe in?

      2. Rendered is pretty much pure fat--no water, no connective tissue. I chop the fat into chunks a couple inches on a side, submerge them in cold water in a big dutch oven, turn the heat on low, and wait a long while--two or three hours. Eventually the water cooks away and the what's left of the chunks starts to turn into brown cracklings (gribenes in Yiddish); at this point you have to watch pretty closely, because in the absence of water the temperature will rise toward the "smoke point." The cracklings are a good gauge--when they're really crisp, the rendering is finished and you can use the fat for confit, frying potatoes, flavoring bean dishes or whatever. And you can salt the cracklings and eat them, while listening to the plaque forming in your arteries...

        1. Rootless, Pick up a copy of Charlie Trotter's "The Kitchen Sessions". He has a great recipe for Duck Confit where you cook duck legs & thighs for 5 hours submerged in duck fat. (I could not find enough fat so I used half lard, half fat.) After draining, you quickly brown the duck in hot fat in a skillet. The result is as incredible as it is bad for you. The perfect meal to serve while watching "My Dinner With Andre".

          12 Replies
          1. re: Leper

            Five hours? wow. I usually salt-cure overnight, then bring to about 300° on the stove and transfer to a 300° oven for about two hours. I've found if I leave it in much longer the meat gets too dried out--duck jerky, sort of.

            1. re: rootlesscosmo

              I think that 300° is way too high for making confit. You really need to cook it at the lowest possible temp that you can. The highest temp I would suggest is 250° but if your oven goes lower then that's even better. Some ovens only go down to 200° but I can get mine down to 170° and that is perfect to get the confit just right.

                1. re: JMF

                  In the new edition of *The Cooking of Southwest France*, Paula Wolfert says to slip the duck into the just melted fat and then heat the fat to 190 degrees over 1 hour, specifying that "heating faster will result in stringy texture." You then continue cooking at 192 to 210 degrees (but no higher) for another hour or 2, depending on the duck breed and size of the legs, "until a toothpick pierces the thickest part of a thigh easily." When the duck is done, remove the pot from the heat and allow the duck to cool in the fat for 1 hour more. Having followed the recipe to the letter several times using Moulard duck legs, I can vouch that it works perfectly.

                  1. re: carswell

                    Stringy texture has in fact been a problem with my confit, so I'll follow this method next time. Thank you!

                2. re: rootlesscosmo

                  I had the same thing happen once, but not only did I have it at 300, which was too high, I didn't use a heavy-enough dutch oven, so yeah, what a waste of duck that was. My best results have been with the lowest possible temperature (less than 225, which is the "Low" setting on my ghetto oven) for about 3.5 hours.

                3. re: Leper

                  Is it also true that you should let duck confit "mature." It can be eaten immediately after cooking for the x hours but I've also read that once you let the duck sit over several months (by letting the duck sit preserved in teh fat) the flavors mature and taste much better. Can any vouch for this?

                  1. re: peachblossom

                    Oh, definitely. I mature mine at least a month or two. Four-month duck confit has a complex, savoury flavour and silky texture that's impossible to reproduce by other methods. As far as I'm concerned, it's the main reason to make your own, since most of the stuff on the market isn't ripened more than a few days.

                    1. re: carswell

                      Please tell more about this maturing process.

                      Do you refrigerate it? Is there any preservative? Is it completely covered with the duck fat. Any food poisoning concerns?


                      1. re: Mila

                        For long-term maturing, you use earthenware crocks or wide-mouthed glass jars.
                        - Rinse the containers with boiling water and dry them thoroughly.
                        - Sprinkle kosher salt on the bottom of each container (prevents the duck juices that seep out from souring). Transfer the duck to the containers, filling them about 3/4 full without crowding.
                        - Meanwhile, carefully heat the fat (you don't want it to burn or smoke), skimming off any foam, until it stops sputtering (which means any water/juices it contains have evaporated).
                        - Ladle the fat into the containers through a fine-mesh strainer; use only the clear fat, not the cloudy fat or juices at the bottom of the pot. All parts of the duck must be covered by fat. Leave 1 inch free at the top of the container. Rap the containers to eliminate any air pockets.
                        - Cool uncovered, then cover and refrigerate overnight or until the fat congeals.
                        - Seal the confit by spooning on a 1-inch layer of melted lard. Cover the container with a lid or parchment paper held in place by a rubber band. Store in a cool (50 degrees Farenheit) location (I use a wine cellar) or a refrigerator for up to six months.

                        Disclosure: The above is a condensed version of the procedure in Paula Wolfert's *The Cooking of Southwest France*, surely the definitive work on the subject in English. I tested the duck confit recipes in the book for Paula prior to publication and can assure you they work as advertised.

                        1. re: carswell

                          I did the Wolfert method of confit and had to move very suddenly. That was two years ago and I still have eight legs of confit. Yep - TWO YEAR OLD confit. I'll be eating it soon, that's for sure and Paula assures me it will be heavenly...

                4. Rendered fat keeps months in the fridge (don't try this with raw fat) and indefinitely in the freezer. And you can use it as is; raw fat will require that you render it before use. As mentioned above, rendered fat is a superb sautéing medium -- for potatoes, yes, but also shellfish, fish, white meats and other vegetables. With five pounds of fat, you could even use it to make french fries. What's more, it's far healthier (less unhealthy?) than butter or shortening.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: carswell

                    By the way, Paula Wolfert's *The Cooking of Southwest France* (now in a fine new edition) contains any number of delcious recipes that call for rendered duck fat.

                  2. I freeze rendered duck fat, even just from breasts, to use for the occasional roast potatoes (I also freeze rendered bacon and chicken fat for other purposes). I think it would keep for years in the freezer.