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Jan 1, 2011 12:38 AM

confit question

I am making confit from goose legs, and would like to preserve the meat cut from the legs after cooking, rather than preserve the entire leg. This is for obvious reasons of space and convenience - I will be able to fit all the meat comfortably in one container with enough goose fat to cover, which would not be the case if I preserved the goose legs themselves. Although this is not the traditional way of storing confit, I cannot see any problem with it. Does anybody else? I only plan to hold the confit for a week before using.


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    1. re: Steve_K

      Thanks, Steve. Perhaps I can ask a follow-up question. I was perplexed by the huge difference in cooking time for the goose legs provided in different recipes. The recipe I was using, from Paula Wolfert's "Cooking of Southwestern France) said to place the legs in the melted fat and bring up to 190 degrees, which was supposed to take one hour, and then continue to cook at the same low temperature for another hour and a half, a total of only two and a half hours.

      Afterwards, you remove the legs, heat and skim the oil, and pour it back over the legs and let congeal to room temperature, so that provides some additional cooking time.

      In Thomas Keller's book, he tells you to cook at the same temperature for 8-10 hours. I was tempted to conclude that the shorter cooking time from Wolfert's traditional recipe was based on the expectation of a long storage time, which would further break down the collagen, and that Keller's recipe was geared to modern cooks who wouldn't want to store food for months and months. However, both authors make provisions for long storage, or comsumption within one week.

      As a further comment, it seems grossly impractical to expect that you will be able to keep such a low temperature steady in a typical home oven for 8-10 hours. You'd have to spend the entire day near the oven, making frequent adjustments. I actually cooked mine on the stovetop, over the lowest, gasping flutter of a flame possible, with an instant read inserted into the oil, and still had to man a constant vigil over one and a half hours to keep the temperature around 190 degrees.

      Finally, I appreciated a tip by the guy from "Cooking for Geeks", who said that the low temperature is all that really matters, and you can cook in any kind of fat and don't need to spend a fortune on goose or duck fat. If you're doing a quickie confit, you can then simply brush it with the duck fat and serve.

      1. re: MarkC

        but the entire reason you MAKE duck or goose confit is for the fat (which is rendered from the skin, anyway, so no reason to buy...) The flavor of duck or goose fat is its own reward -- and stop right there...while it's still high in calories, duck and goose fat is also very low in saturated fats, high in linoleic acid (the stuff that actually helps keep your cholesterol levels DOWN), and even has a good dose of Omega-3 fatty acids.

        Disposing of the duck fat and replacing it with any other fat would be a travesty.

          1. re: chefathome

            Not to argue, but the amount of duck or goose fat you need to fully immerse the parts is far more than you can render from the pieces themselves. Hence the need to purchase more fat. The recipes I looked at instructed you to render the fat, and to add an additional 4-6 cups of additional fat. Where I come from goose fat is available year round, but at something like $12 a carton, it's an expensive proposition, especially for what's supposed to be a thrifty, farmhouse recipe. According to "cooking for geeks", if you cook the legs in some other fat, and then brush them with the goose fat, no one will tell the difference.

            I have not tried this method, so I can't vouch for it's success, but I'm always interested in efficiency/cost-saving.

            1. re: MarkC

              That is true. And goose/duck fat is exceedingly expensive; ridiculously so. I am always open to ideas so would love to hear about this method. If it is successful (and I don't doubt that could very well be the case) believe me, I could see myself using that method in the future!

              "Cooking for Geeks" is on my Amazon wishlist. Perhaps I shoulder order it soooner rather than later!

              BTW, I "confit" garlic and lemons also (in olive oil, of course).

              Good luck - don't forget to post your results!

              1. re: MarkC

                The first time I wanted to make confit I bought all the fat, but I have never had to top it up as fat renders off the legs while it cooks.
                I've never done it in an oven or gas burner - I use an electric slow-cooker with digital thermostat wired into the power lead (DIY sous vide machine, essentially). Pop it all in and turn on before I go to bed, it's ready in the morning. Hardly a recipe, but you can't overcook like this. A few hours at 65-75C should do it.

                1. re: MarkC

                  but you're already coughing up a pretty significant sum for the duck or goose to begin with, especially Stateside. Buy a whole duck, keep the magret out for dinner, and render the rest of the skin. Or ask the folks your buying the legs from if there's a way you can buy extra skin.

                  Sorry, but the geeks are wrong...I live in France, and the idea of making confit with anything OTHER than duck or goose fat would make just about anybody in the country cry. It WILL taste different, and it IS a travesty.

                  If you can't afford to do it right, then buy it canned and ready-made...and keep the fat from THAT to make your own confit down the road - it keeps darned near forever in the refrigerator.

                  1. re: sunshine842

                    I guess then you're not a fan of making confit with chicken legs?

                    1. re: cowboyardee

                      Confit chicken wings are good - pull the bones out so it still looks like a wing, dredge in seasoned flour and fry till crispy =)

                      1. re: cowboyardee

                        if you're going to make chicken confit, then you make it with chicken fat...I've never had chicken confit...but if you like it, at least make it the right way....

                        1. re: sunshine842

                          You're telling me the 'right' way to make something you've never made or even tasted?

                          It's actually pretty good in a mixture of chicken fat and lard. I've also used chicken fat and bacon grease for a different but most excellent result. Pure chicken fat is fine too.

                          1. re: cowboyardee

                            While the technical definition of confit is limited to "cooked in fat" - the practical definition of confit (at least here in France) is "cooked in its own fat" -- duck in duck fat, goose in goose fat, chicken in chicken fat, etc, etc.

                            I've never tasted chicken confit because I've never seen it on offer in a restaurant or on the shelves of a grocery/deli/epicerie/traiteur anywhere on two continents...and I have no reason to make chicken confit because the duck confit is taking up all the room on my shelves.

                            I've made duck confit...yet you're nitpicking because of species?

                            1. re: sunshine842

                              It's not the species I'm actually much concerned with. You've told people it's a travesty (your word) to confit in anything but the fat of the animal you are confiting, that they might as well not bother unless they've got said fat to work with. Why? In my experience (actually trying these things before bashing them), you can make some quite delicious less-than-traditional confits that do fine service to the ingredients involved.

                              1. re: cowboyardee

                                Duck and goose in particular have tremendous and unique flavors, and their respective fats have tremendous and unique flavor. Bastardizing it with lard or olive oil would dilute those flavors, diminish the effect of the dish, and would give you a product that doesn't taste like it's supposed to taste.

                                Chicken tends to not have an enormous amount of flavor of its own*, nor does chicken fat, so it *might* be more applicable...but if you're going to do it with beef or pork fat, so that the chicken absorbs the flavor of the beef or pork, why not just make beef or pork confit?

                                *chicken from which you would actually make a confit...I suppose you *could* make confit from a poulet de Bresse, but why? It's not the best way to cook that particular bird, and would be *enormously* expensive...far more than any duck you're going to find.

                                Mostly...why would you go to the time and trouble of making a 'traditional' dish by the 'traditional' methods, then screw it up by using non-traditional ingredients? Knock yourself out in your kitchen...but don't come back and complain that it's not all that great....

                                1. re: sunshine842

                                  Right off the bat, you overstate the taste of duck and understate the taste of chicken. Poulet de Bresse is hardly the only flavorful chicken available. Confit is traditional with duck and goose but not chicken mainly because ducks and geese render much more fat and people came up with something to do with it.

                                  Quote: 'why would you go to the time and trouble of making a 'traditional' dish by the 'traditional' methods, then screw it up by using non-traditional ingredients?'
                                  For the same reason that people traditionally made said traditional dish - because you have the ingredients on hand and the technique produces a delicious end result. You're not screwing anything up. You're making something delicious in its own right, taking what you have available, applying technique, and making good use of it.

                                  Quote: 'Knock yourself out in the kitchen...but don't come back and complain that it's not all that great...."
                                  You don't have to worry about me complaining. I have made it many times. Chicken and duck (goose, not so much). In their own fat and in mixed fats. It's all delicious (and the flavor is decidedly less affected by supplementing your fat with lard than you seem to think, BTW). Try it yourself sometime.

                                  1. re: cowboyardee

                                    Perhaps you should try a good magret from a Muscovy or Moulard duck yourself, or even a even moderately well-prepared confit de canard from either'd never, ever say "overstate the taste of duck" if you had, because "lacking flavor" wouldn't be describing any confit (or anything else from a well-raised Muscovy or Moulard) I've ever had...on two continents. A Pekin?'s insipid white-fleshed poultry...*just like chicken*. A good Muscovy or Moulard don't even pair well with white wine, as the flavor is just too 'big' for whites...there's a reason why much of the world serves red with duck.

                                    Most chicken, especially the lion's share of the factory-farmed poultry in the US, is very, very mild...there's a reason why "banquet chicken" and "tastes like chicken" is used so commonly -- most industrial-farm chickens don't have a lot of flavor on their own, and using a flavorful free-range chicken to make confit seems a bit of a waste, especially given the concerns about budget that have been mentioned.

                                    Most lard tastes like pig...which is not a flavor I want in my duck (or chicken, should I ever come up with a reason why I'd make chicken confit).

                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                      Why throw quotes around "lacking flavor" when I never said it? You act like duck is some kind of flavor explosion bordering on too intense whereas chicken is completely tasteless. Not so on either account.

                                      You make an awful lot of assumptions. When I buy duck, it's usually Muscovy. I have no idea why you're educating me on chicken, and even less of an idea as to why using the legs of a free range bird (let's say pastured, since "free range" is essentially meaningless in the US) for confit would be a waste in your mind.

                                      Most lards are largely overtaken in flavor when mixed with duck fat or schmaltz (significantly more flavorful than you give it credit for, BTW), especially if lard makes up less than half of the total. Which is frankly sort of beside the point, because so many things cooked entirely in pork fat taste quite good, tradition be damned. I haven't yet tried an olive oil confit, so maybe I'll test pilot that one. I'd write back to tell you about it, but it's obvious you're not interested in something different from what you've already had.

                                      1. re: cowboyardee

                                        but yet you misconstrue what I said...that duck has a flavor more than big enough to stand on its own. ( "explosion bordering on too intense"? What?!?)

                                        You make it your way, and I'll make it mine. You mumble every time about what a purist I am, and I'll grumble about you screwing it up...but since we're unlikely to share a table anytime soon, the whole thing is kinda pointless.

                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                          I'll make it your way and mine.

                                          It's not that pointless, or at least it wasn't initially. You're giving very stern advice against something you've clearly never tried. I'm counter balancing that advice, because I've tried it, and it's worthwhile. I would have left it at that several posts ago if you hadn't been so condescending.

                                          1. re: cowboyardee

                                            I don't need to try mustard on strawberries to figure it's not very tasty...and using lard to make duck confit comes in not too far from that, IMO.

                            2. re: cowboyardee


                              I was searching the internet for this, when I should have started on Chowhound. I noticed some variation in recipes for chicken confit too, but most ask for olive oil. I was wondering it there is some reason not to use chicken fat. One recipe said chicken fat was "hard to come by and undesirable." I tend to end up with lots of chicken legs and fat. I assume the fat must be strained and the chicken then stored in it. I've seen everything from "a few days" to a month, but again, those recipes used olive oil. Any thoughts abort reusing the chicken fat?

                              1. re: Shrinkrap

                                There is no particular reason not to use chicken fat unless you either don't have much available or just had something else in mind.

                                The issue is I'm not sure what you're asking - 1) how to store chicken fat before use, 2) whether you can reuse chicken fat that has already been used to make confit, or 3) how long you can store chicken confit in fat once it's made.

                                If you're asking question #1, raw chicken fat will store AFAIK indefinitely in the freezer, tightly sealed in a plastic freezer bag (you can dunk it under water then seal to get all the air out).

                                If it's #2 - I can't say for sure - I haven't done it. I can tell you VERY offhand that if you reheat the chicken fat to 300 deg f or so and hold it at that temp for half an hour or so, it should be pretty close to sterile. You could theoretically chill it rapidly and freeze until ready to reuse. However, the fat can denature so I'd recommend tasting it after heating it up - reuse if it still tastes like good fresh schmaltz and throw away if not. Your guess is as good as mine as to whether it would still be worth using. Probably would be fine.

                                For question #3 - the usual advice is if you cure the chicken with salt first, it's good for at least a month under refrigeration. If you do not cure the chicken first, it's good for 4-6 days. Haven't tried pushing it longer than that. Obviously, either way holds much longer when frozen, but they don't seem to continue to develop flavor quite the same while storing that way.

                                1. re: cowboyardee

                                  #2 and #3. Thanks! I used about 2 T of kosher salt, plus pepper,thyme, garlic, for two leg+thigh pieces, for about 18 hours. Not sure if that constitutes a cure. Probably not.

                2. re: MarkC

                  Some sort of Breville, I can;t see a model number. It's very easy to do - the thermostatic controller just turns the power off when it reaches a certain temperature and on when it falls below it. Just wire it in series with the live OR neutral line.

              2. stepping aside the goose/duck fat controversy, i now make "overnight" duck leg confit. set the oven to 200 and cook the legs for about 7 hours. absolutely hands-off and gorgeous. even though wolfert is one of my favorites, i can't imagine goose legs being done at 190 in 2 hours, even with resting in the fat as it cools from warm-ish to room temp.

                the overnight technique, iirc, is from ruhlman.

                5 Replies
                1. re: hotoynoodle

                  Again, my fear is that a normal kitchen oven just can't be relied on to hold the temperature steady at such a low setting, and that when you wake up after seven hours, you'll find that the temperature of the fat is closer to 250 degrees.

                  Steve_T, would you mind telling me which brand of slow cooker you use? I started out using my old Rival Crockpot, but it went on the fritz, shutting itself off after an hour (probably because of overheating), so I switched to the stovetop. Even when it was working it never held the temperature steady, and tended to overheating. I'll probably just junk it and get a new one. Is wiring the digital thermostat complicated?

                  1. re: MarkC

                    my oven seems to regulate itself just fine and i now prefer to do confit this way. set it and forget it and i wake up to aromas that cannot be beat. it's not a dish that requires a lot of intellectualizing. home cooks have been making it for centuries, long before the advent of modern kitchen ovens, both in coal and wood-fired ovens, which hardly had a perfect reliability for even temps. properly submerged in fat, this is almost impossible to overcook. i have made it dozens of times and never had an issue with it being overcooked. more often, home cooks are afraid to let the dish cook enough.

                    1. re: MarkC

                      why would a "normal kitchen oven" be any less reliable as to temperature control than a closed pot on an electric stovetop or a crockpot?

                      They're all electric appliances regulated by a thermostat...and assuming the thermostat is working correctly, one is no more or less reliable than the others.

                      1. re: sunshine842

                        The issue is low temperature cooking. Kitchen ovens are not built to maintain low temperatures, while slow cookers are. Otherwise, there wouldn't really be a need for slow cookers.

                        hotoynoodle - as someone making his first confit, I am not setting myself up as any kind of expert, however, as to being impossible to overcook, this seems rather an exaggeration. Paula Wolfert claims that goose cooked much over 190 degrees will be stringy. I fell asleep as I was cooking one batch, and the temperature reached around 210 degrees. This meat was indeed dried out and tougher, compared to the second batch which was done at the right temperature. By the way, I have a feeling that cooking in a fireplace actually does allow better control over low temperature cooking than an electric oven, once you've mastered it. You can pile up as many or as few embers as you want.

                        1. re: MarkC

                          ah! so the 190 is the temp of the meat, not the temp of the oven? at what temp was the oven set? i've tried doing confit in hotter ovens but prefer the results from a long low cook. am not at home right now, so don't have access to any of my wolfert books, but do know she has numerous confit recipes and methods. as i mentioned, the 7-hour duck is ruhlman and i won't switch. i also don't have a crockpot.

                          by all means try the method that makes you feel most comfortable.