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November 2010 COTM: WOLFERT- Fowl

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  1. Yesterday my DH began the annual confit making as laid out in TCSWF. He cut up 4 ducks, put the skin in a pot, rendered the fat, and now the legs and thighs are in the fridge having had their rub. Tonight, they will be cooked in the fat, very, very slowly.

    14 Replies
      1. re: dkennedy

        Well, he certainly is somewhat of an expert on both confit and cassoulet. This has been going on for some 20 years or so!

        1. re: roxlet

          well I have a question for you. Its been maybe 15 years since I made confit. Last night I completed the process and put the cooked duck legs wings down in a glass crock, pouring the clear heated fat over as instructed and putting the crock in a cold place. this am, the duck fat had congealed but about 1/3 of the content height in the jar was filled with juices. Is this the norm in your process. I see from the recipe that the salt is added to the jar to keep the juices from souring but I was a little taken aback by the extent of the juice.

          ps the duck tastes wonderful.

          1. re: jen kalb

            In Wolfert's instructions (the newer ed., p 202, step 7), she says to ladle the hot clear fat over the duck pieces and to avoid the "more perishable cloudy fat and meat juices at the bottom of the pot."

            If you included that bottom-of-the-pot stuff, it probably only means that you'd have a hard time keeping that confit in good shape for more than two or three weeks. But this is my first time, too, so others might well know better.

            1. re: jen kalb

              My DH says that the problem is that you poured the duck fat over the confit. The juices are in the bottom of the pot, and you are supposed to ladle the fat from the top of the pot into the crock leaving the juices behind. He suggests that you melt the confit in a low oven, remove the duck, ladle the clear fat off the top into a pot leaving the juice behind. Bring the fat to a boil to remove any remaining liquid. Clean the crock, then return duck pieces to it, and ladle the cooled fat over the top.

              1. re: roxlet

                Good tips! I wonder if your husband has an answer to one further issue I'm anticipating: I followed Wolfert's instructions by using a layer of lard on top after the duck fat had congealed around the duck parts. But will I ever be able to reuse that duck fat (apart from having lard-flavored duck fat) down the road?

                1. re: Bada Bing

                  I know for a fact that he has never used lard on top of the the crock. We keep the confit in the fridge, and never have any problems. In fact, we just finished last year's confit about a week ago, and it was still fabulous.

                2. re: roxlet

                  well, I followed the instructions exactly. I allowed the cooked duck to cool down to room temperature and then removed the duck to the crock. the duck legs fell apart quite a lot when being removed. My feeling is that they were a bit overcooked. (I had complied with the temp requirements on stovetop.) I then reheated the duck fat as specified, it was clear with no appreciable juices or cloudy portion. the duck had been cooked without moving at all until removed, when as stated the legs fell apart. I spooned the clear fat out into the crock straining it as I went, over the duck. The next morning I saw a couple of cups or more of juices under the fat. I am thinking that the broken legs gave out these juices. But I am still puzzled.

                  1. re: jen kalb

                    Interesting -- I've never had this problem in 20 years of confit making, including last weekend.

                    If the legs fell apart just by removing them to the crock, I'd say they were certainly overdone -- you should be able to easily remove the meat from the bones, but they should hold together. Were the bones actually broken as well? It also sounds like the temp may have been too high, but you say you followed the requirements -- what sort of thermometer did you use? A digital instant read meat thermo is very helpful in this process. You also need to move it around from time to time so you're keeping an eye on the whole pot, not just one spot where it can touch one of the duck pieces and read too low.

                    As to clarifying the fat, i recall that the recipe is a little vague on this. If you try to clarify it by boiling in the original cooking pot (with the liquid at the bottom) you won't get anywhere -- the liquid just emulsifies into the fat. You need to let the fat settle for a few minutes, then ladle from the top into a clean pot, being careful not to disturb the liquid at the bottom. Boil at 230 or so for 5 minutes to boil off any dissolved liquid and let cool a bit, then ladle over your duck in the crock. If the duck is as done as you say, all but a spoonful of juice should be left in the original cooking pot.

                    Don't bother with the lard -- not necessary and ruins the fat for future use.

                    Good luck. I'm likely going to do another batch this weekend.

                    1. re: rjbh20

                      I used a very accurate candy themometer to measure the fat temp which would not come into direct contact with anything other than the fat.. I did cook it somewhat longer - took a very long time to get up to temp since I was being very scrupulous about following the directions and of course allowing it to cool down in the same pan extended the time. The meat on the legs was very tender and falling off the bone to some degree so althou the legs went into the crock intact there was a lot of internal flesh exposed which could have contributed to juice formation . I had removed a great deal of the fat for rendering, since I had a shortage, so this may have contributed to the falling off the bone situation. As I said I followed the directions precisely. I am just wondering if anyone else puts their confit in glass and so can observe what it looks like afterwards.

                      1. re: jen kalb

                        I don't use glass (ceramic crock instead) but when i melt the fat to remove pieces of confit, I have clear fat all the way to the bottom other than a spoonful of liquid (salarque).

                        1. re: jen kalb

                          I also used a candy thermometer and watched it like a hawk: it took two hours rather than one hour to come up to 190 degrees or so. My duck legs were close to falling apart (but did not do so) by the time I was done with the initial cooking. Now I'm wondering if tons of juice are lurking below in my porcelain container. I'd melt it to see, but it's now got pork lard all over the top, too. I'll have a look in a few weeks and hope for the best...

                          1. re: Bada Bing

                            While I let the temp rise relatively gently, I quit with the ultra slow (1 - 2 hours!) business years ago. Never could see, feel or taste any difference in the output, there's no intuitive reason to do it, and the cooking takes long enough as it is. I'd guess i take 15 - 20 minutes tops to get up to 190.

                            I do think that keeping the temp below the boiling point is important.

          2. Chicken with Red Onion Sauce, TCSWF, p. 140

            Easy, great dish for a cold, rainy night. Brown a quartered chicken in duck fat, then add 1/2 c slivered ham, cook briefly, then add 2 lbs coarsely chopped red onion. Cook until onion softens, then add 1/2 c dry white wine and simmer until done. Run chicken under broiler to crisp skin, boil sauce to thicken, garnish with chopped parsley & chives.

            I used skinned legs/thighs, so I skipped the broiling step, and I also forgot to garnish, which was too bad because it would have added a nice touch of green. I used a chunk of regular ham instead of the more appropriate jambon de Bayonne/prosciutto/Serrano ham, but it was still quite tasty.

            There were a couple of odd bits of timing in this recipe. She calls for adding the 2 lbs of chopped onion and cooking over low heat for 5 minutes or until soft but not brown. But in 5 minutes on low, those onions had hardly begun to warm up, much less soften! I raised the heat up to medium and gave them another 10 minutes, which got some results.

            Then after adding the wine and bringing to a boil, she calls for cooking the chicken just 20 minutes more. Maybe I just like my chicken more done than that, but I doubled that time to 40 minutes. (Fairly safe since I was using legs, not breasts.)

            Still, bottom line was that it was pretty easy to put together and very tasty. I served it over her oven-baked polenta for a great combo.

            1. Saute of Chicken with Peppers, Ham and Tomatoes (Poulet a la Basquaise). P. 15 TCOSWF

              Lightly floured and seasoned chicken legs are cooked in duck fat and ventreche for 5 minutes per side until browned, then set aside. Chopped onion is then browned, and then add chopped red bell peppers, sliced garlic, diced Bayonne, tomatoes (I used Pomi), pinch of sugar and piment d’espelette and cook for 15 minutes. Add chicken and cook 10 minutes on low and 10 minutes off heat. The sauce is set aside and the chicken is cooked in a tablespoon or two of sauce to glaze. The glazing is a nice touch and adds a concentrated taste of the sauce on the chicken. We liked this dish. Nothing earth shattering, but a nice dish. The chicken was very moist and succulent. I would make this again and omit the ventreche and Bayonne – I didn’t feel that they added enough to the dish to warrant keeping them.

              5 Replies
              1. re: BigSal

                Wow, BigSal, which edition were you cooking from? Mine was published in 1988. In my copy the recipe is on p. 174 and the chicken pieces (not just legs) are sauteed in olive oil. Bayonne, prosciutto or Westphalian ham is called for.

                1. re: oakjoan

                  It is on p. 158. Sorry about that. It is the 2005 edition. Definitely chicken legs. Olive oil is an alternative to sauteeing in duck fat and prosciutto or jamon serrano are alternatives to Bayonne.

                  1. re: BigSal

                    Ventreche is more like pancetta than prosciutto, IMO. I've been looking at that recipe and might try it this weekend. I'll use prosciutto for the Bayonne...

                    1. re: Gio

                      Yes, pancetta is suggested as an alternative to ventreche. I procured some some ventreche for the cassoulet and other recipes. Pancetta will work fine. I think the prosciutto might even be tastier than the Bayonne (saltier and deeper flavored).

                      1. re: BigSal

                        Thanks Sal...! Then it's on the menu for the week-end.

              2. Chicken w/Red Onion Sauce, TCSWF, p. 168

                I made this tonight, half recipe. I used four thighs, well S'd &P'd, and browned them for 3 min/per side In 1 T. duck fat (no goose fat on hand--quelle horreur!--but I try to keep some duck fat in the freezer). I added just over an ounce of diced prosciutto and covered the skillet for a few minutes. I then added the roughly chopped red onion (1 lb), covered the skillet again, and cooked for another 10 minutes until the onions were soft (as another poster has noted, 5 minutes was just not enough time). Since we really wanted to drink the white wine on hand, I added a generous 1/4 cup of dry vermouth to the skillet, brought it all to a boil, then covered the skillet again, and lowered the heat, cooking thighs another 25 minutes, turning once. I pulled the thighs out and put them into an ovenproof dish, which I put under the broiler for the last 5-6 minutes before serving. In the meantime, I boiled down the onion mixture. When the thighs were nicely crisped, I spooned the sauce over them, and sprinkled it all with fresh parsley (which helped appearances a lot, as I really didn't find the pinkish-grey color of the sauce very appetizing, an issue always w/cooked red onions).

                Color notwithstanding, we loved the dish. I was surprised by how much. The flavor combination of these relatively few ingredients is really delicious. I'll definitely make this again. I served it w/mashed potatoes, which was perfect--but this would be fine with some good bread. We also had a simple salad of butter lettuce, garlic croutons, and vinaigrettte, and some roasted brussels sprouts. But I can imagine any number of sides working well with this.

                This is a pretty easy, pretty quickly prepared dish that tastes like it's a lot more work than it is. I think a bunch of fresh thyme added to the onion sauce would be good, too.

                1 Reply
                1. re: nomadchowwoman

                  Like Karen_Schaffer and nomadchowwoman, we enjoyed this dish. I used 2 t of duck fat and could have gotten away with even a little less. I also used prosciutto instead of Bayonne even though I had Bayonne (I didn't think it added much in the my Poulet a la Basquaise dish. It could be the quality of the Bayonne I have, but I will use prosciutto every time). I think nomadchowwoman's suggestion about adding thyme would be delicious. Would make this again.

                2. Chicken Thighs with Pineau de Charentes (half recipe) p. 155 TCOSWF

                  Mushroom lovers should take note of this recipe. Despite some errors in my execution, this turned out wonderfully. Chicken thighs are browned in butter (I only used 1 T which was plenty), fat is removed and Pineau (can substitute Cognac or Armagnac and semisweet white wine) is added. The Pineau is then ignited. The flames do get VERY high. Add shallots and cook 1 minute. Turn chicken over, cover and cook 25 minutes. I went to check on the chicken after 20 minutes and to my horror, all of the Pineau was blackened in the bottom of the pan. I guess my heat was not “moderate” enough. Fortunately, the chicken was fine (and cooked), but I was unable to glaze it in the sauce. The chicken is then set aside. Cook cremini and reconstituted cepes for 5 minutes, add soaking liquid until reduced to a glaze and add cream. I only added 2T cream instead of 4T and it was a little dry, but the flavor was there. Return chicken to the pan to slowly reheat. In spite of some of my missteps, the dish was deeply flavored with mushroom and the skin was deliciously crispy. I would make this again without question.

                  13 Replies
                  1. re: BigSal

                    Thanks for the review -- I've been considering making that one. Did you actually use Pineau or did you sub?

                    1. re: BigSal

                      This is one that must have been added to the newer editions - isn't in my book which is a shame.

                      1. re: greedygirl

                        GG,

                        Here's the recipe from Chow. http://www.chow.com/recipes/12349-chi... I noticed that a number of the recipes from TCOSWF are listed. Hope you like it as much as we did.

                      2. re: BigSal

                        Oh my this one has *several* things to recommend it -- wish I could try it today! It's not in my book either, I'm very glad to have it.
                        And I'll need Cognac for another (beef steak with peppercorns & golden raisins) recipe of hers, that will work out nicely.

                        1. re: BigSal

                          That one's not in my book either; thanks for the link. The recipe looks quite doable. I'm thinking I could use a riesling for the "semisweet" wine mixed w/cognac. Thoughts?

                          1. re: nomadchowwoman

                            I am no wine expert (so I will defer to those that are), but my first thought is I think it would work.

                            1. re: BigSal

                              I think it would need to have some residual sugar, not just be implicitly sweet like some rieslings are. but I guess a bit of sugar could be added, too.

                              1. re: jen kalb

                                I'm no wine expert, but I've never heard "semi-sweet" applied to wine, so I'm not sure what I should look for.
                                Then again, how bad could it be?

                                1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                  Im no expert either but I think she is talking about a wine with some sweetness/residual sugar (maybe like vouvray , moscato d'asti or an auslese riesling) but not syrupy sweet like sauternes. Not saying the dry riesling wouldnt be tasty just trying to interpret what she wants which is a combo that replicates the characteristics of the pineau http://blog.cognac-expert.com/pineau-...

                                  1. re: jen kalb

                                    Vouvray--yes, that sounds like what I might think of as semi-sweet, now that you mention it. Thanks. (I obviously have no sense of what a Pineau de Charentes is!)

                                    1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                      White Lillet would probably work too, I'd think. Pineau de Charentes is wonderful - fairly sweet. I always think of it as a apperitif (sp?) or dessert wine (as in taking the place of the dessert for me!).

                                      1. re: LulusMom

                                        Thanks--now I'm getting a better idea. I do know what White Lillet is. This dish is calling out to me.