Duck Confit
  • 4 duck legs
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves, or 1 teaspoon fresh
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Pinch of ground cloves
  • 2 1⁄2 to 3 cups rendered duck or chicken fat, or a combination
Time Estimates

Prep time: 30 min  

Cook time: 2 hrs 

Total time: 2 hrs 30 min  


  1. Trim any excess skin and fat from the legs and save it for rendering.
  2. Combine the salt, pepper, garlic, herbs, and cloves and rub generously over the meat and skin.
  3. Let stand in a covered bowl in the refrigerator overnight or for up to 2 days.
  4. Preheat the oven to 200˚F.
  5. Choose a covered baking dish just big enough to fit the legs snugly.
  6. Put the fat in the dish and set it in the oven to melt as the oven warms.
  7. Rinse any visible salt off the legs, drain well, and pat dry.
  8. When the fat has melted, slide the legs into the baking dish, cover, and bake until the meat is very tender and almost but not quite falling off the bone, about 2 hours.
  9. Remove the legs from the pan and place them in a deep container (a crock is traditional, but an 8-cup soufflé dish or a very large glass jar also works).
  10. Let the liquid contents of the pan cool slightly, then pour into a 2-quart heatproof measuring pitcher.
  11. Strain in any drippings that have accumulated in the crock containing the legs.
  12. Let stand until the meat juices (there may be as much as a cup) settle below the fat.
  13. Carefully pour the fat over the legs, covering them completely.
  14. When the juices are about to reach the pouring spout, stop pouring and either draw out the juices with a bulb baster before proceeding or carefully ladle the fat off the top and into the crock. The idea is to get as little of the juices as possible in the crock. (Save the juices to use in the cassoulet, or wherever you can use some flavorful salted stock.)
  15. Cover the crock and refrigerate for up to a week.
  16. To use, remove the crock from the refrigerator and set it in a warm place (or set it in warm water) until the fat softens enough to pull out as many pieces as you need.
  17. Scrape the excess fat back into the crock and return the crock to the refrigerator.
  18. Reheat the confit in a double boiler or steamer, then drain the melted fat back into the crock.


Makes four duck legs


Wings and gizzards also make good confit, though not as meaty. Use only the upper wing section, or the upper and middle as you like. Increase the seasonings by half if you will be adding the wings and gizzards to the confit.

For chicken confit, substitute chicken legs (and upper wing sections) for the duck. Try using chicken confit in a warm salad or in place of duck in cassoulet.

Good to know

Confit is a French term for meats and poultry seasoned with salt, simmered slowly in their own fat, and stored in the same fat. When reheated and well drained, the result is rich but not greasy and both more intense in flavor and more tender than the same meats cooked by other methods. Like many traditional foods, confit began as a way to preserve meat before refrigeration, and with sufficient salt confit can keep for months at cellar temperatures. These days, it’s typically salted somewhat less and stored in the refrigerator.

Duck and goose are the most common forms of poultry used for confit, and most chefs wouldn’t bother with anything as pedestrian as chicken. However, the technique remains a good way to “put up” an excess of chicken legs for use a week or so later, and it does transform the flavor and texture into something much more interesting than plain cooked chicken.

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From The Microbrew Lover’s Cookbook, Copyright © 2002 by Jay Harlow. Used by arrangement with Jay Harlow.

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