The Cooking Chronicles: Mother’s Day Duck Confit

Between Media Camp and volunteering for Homeless Connect over Mother’s Day weekend, Mack and I didn’t have the time or energy to prepare a special meal for my Mum. So instead, we promised her supper the following Sunday – great timing not only because my parents were fresh from a short holiday to Vancouver, but also because it allowed us to finish up our ingredient shopping at the City Market.

Though I didn’t set out to cook a meal made up almost entirely of local ingredients, it ended up that way – being more conscious about where your food comes from tends to do that. On the menu: braised lentils with confit of duck (from Grainworks and Greens, Eggs and Ham); roasted root vegetables (from Kuhlmann’s, Sundog Organics, Greens, Eggs and Ham); and mixed heritage greens (from Greens, Eggs and Ham).

Knowing that the confit of duck would take the longest (the recipe indicated 45 minutes), we started with that. Of course, with Murphy’s Law, the entire dinner took about two hours to complete – I always seem to overestimate my adeptness in the kitchen.

The recipe is printed in The Food Lover’s Grail Guide to Alberta, by Mary Bailey & Judy Schultz, and is courtesy of Chef Kelly Strutt, who worked at the Deer Lodge at the time of the book’s printing. The instructions directed us to cover the duck legs with fresh thyme, rosemary and salt and refrigerate for 48 hours. To cook the duck legs, we rinsed off the salt and herbs, then simmered them in duck fat (also from Greens, Eggs and Ham) for thirty minutes. It was my first time cooking confit-style, and for whatever reason, I thought the fat would retain its solid consistency, but instead, it melted into a thin yellow oil.

In the meantime, we had prepped the carrots, parsnips and baby potatoes, tossed with some dried herbs, salt, pepper, honey and Mighty Trio Organics canola oil, and had put them into the oven. I also started on the braised red and green lentils, cooked with sautéed shallots and chicken stock.

To toss with the mixed heritage greens (our first bag of the year!), I whisked up my favourite vinaigrette – lemon juice, olive oil, grainy mustard (from The Bison in Banff), honey, salt and pepper.

The last task was the most difficult – to “flake” the duck meat from the bone. The recipe made it sound easier than it actually was – Mack and I fought tooth and nail to separate the meat from both skin and bone. I actually resorted to tearing with my fingers instead of using a knife and fork. In the end though, we were able to wrench a fair amount of meat from the pair of duck legs, and definitely enough to feed the six of us, with accompaniments.

Braised lentils and duck confit

I am happy to report that my mom enjoyed the meal. The duck meat was tender and flavourful, and though the lentils probably could have used another ten minutes on the stove, I didn’t mind that they still had a little bite to them.

Plated with roasted vegetables and mixed heritage greens

For dessert, we purchased the show stopping Duchess from the eponymous bakery. I’d been looking for an excuse to try it, and a meal for my Mum seemed like the perfect occasion.

The Duchess

Chiffon cake layered with pastry cream and raspberry, then topped with a dome of vanilla bean whipped cream and encased in a marzipan shell, it is no doubt a dessert made with skill and care. My favourite part was the light and airy chiffon and the delicate raspberry filling.

Inside the Duchess

Family and good food – what more could you ask for?

5 thoughts on “The Cooking Chronicles: Mother’s Day Duck Confit

  1. What a beautiful meal you guys made for your mom! I’m sure the time, effort, and thought put into that meal was well worth it and much appreciated. Better than any meal out at a restaurant.

    The Duchess cake looks so simple but beautiful at the same time. I’ve had the pleasure of trying that cake at a baby shower and I was blown away by the deliciousness encased in such a simple looking cake! I am in love with that shop. Well worth the money 😛 Hope you’re having a great long weekend Sharon!

  2. What a wonderful tribute to your mom, Sharon – and to our local producers. Great minds think alike – I have my Saturday meal from the market – not posted yet – and the breakfast I did post. This time of year, almost every meal is a worthy post – and important for those who don’t cook to see what beautiful food can be make with the simplest of ingredients so effortlessly. Except this meal, of course. Roasted root vegetables is where you start next time. 🙂 Did you buy the duck confit – or did you confit the duck? That part was a little confusing to me. In 45 minutes the duck would have already been through the 2 day process, etc… so I am surprised you had to wash off the salt and cook it for 45 more minutes. I haven’t done my confit post yet, either… but will be, soon. It should just fall from the bone without any effort. I find I have to be very gentle crisping the skin of a confit leg in the frying pan to ensure it all stays in one piece. Was your confit salty? That is my nemesis. Most don’t find it TOO salty, but to me, it still is. That’s why I have not posted it yet. I have made Thomas Keller’s green salt confit, too. Such a delicious, and quite a rich meal… as the duck is so rich – and I find roasted root vegetables – thought not rich, so completely satisfying.
    And I went to Duchess after the morning at the Market, too. All alone, having my latte, playing with my cookies. There is NOTHING she has made that I have not tasted. OK – the other cakes and the biscuits and the pies I have not eaten. But, all of the French goodies are better than in many Patisseries in France. Truly. The macarons are now smaller and more expensive. But, hats off to Giselle. The line up is still long, and we are all paying. In Paris, they are most often 2 euro a piece, so it’s still a deal. I loved her new orange blossom macaron. And the maple was amazing, and I am not a maple gal.
    I am in the process of lining up a macaron baking class with her as one of our teachers in the fall. It will not be cheap. I am thinking 150 for the day with all expenses covered. Let me know if this interests you.
    Lucky mommy!

  3. Lequan – my Mum did appreciate our effort :). I hope you had a great weekend too!

    Valerie – I may need cooking lessons from you! I think you give me too much credit in actually knowing what I’m doing in the kitchen – especially because this was the first time we were doing confit, I followed the recipe to a T. And no, we didn’t buy the confit packs, just duck legs and duck fat, and no, it wasn’t too salty. Looking forward to reading (and learning) from your confit post. I’d be interested in hearing more about the macaron class.

    Debra – she is a Queen :).

  4. Wow Sharon! That meal looks delicious. I’m super impressed with your skills! Your mom must have been so happy and proud 🙂

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