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Duck Confit Hash

September 7, 2011

Duck Confit Hash

Corned beef hash is certainly not the pinnacle of elegant cuisine. Out of the can it looks rather like dog food, but don’t let that minor aesthetic detail deter you. As a kid, this was the stuff of my dreams—-unlike my fellow 3rd graders, who probably favored pancakes with syrup, Pop Tarts, or some other sugar-y breakfast item, my breakfast tastes did (and still do) lean toward savory. On select Sunday mornings, when my vote happened to outweigh my younger brother’s (he’d usually lobby for the belgian waffles) my Mom would break out the canned corned beef hash. She’d scoop the mixture from the can into a very hot skillet, stirring it occasionally to encourage crispy bits to form—-once an appropriate degree of crispiness had been achieved, it was time to nudge a few holes in the meat/potato melange to accommodate several fried eggs. After the whites had set and the yolks were still runny, she’d serve one egg to us each with the crispy hash clinging to its edges. I still can’t think of anything much better.

When I developed the concept for a menu writing project I completed while in culinary school, corned beef hash was on my mind. In my attempt to re-visit and elevate packaged foods from my childhood, there hardly seemed a more logical place to start. With several months of French culinary training under my belt, I had developed a bit of a love affair with Duck Confit and given it’s fatty, salty flavor profile, I thought it would make a reasonable substitution for the corned beef version I grew up. Minus the actual making of the confit and preparation of the vegetables (I used a combination of root vegetables en lieu of just potatoes), this recipe strays very little from my Mom’s method: Hot skillet. Add hash. Encourage crispy bits. Add Eggs. Serve.

Although duck confit can be purchased ready-made at gourmet grocery stores, making it at home isn’t too difficult. The most challenging part of the process may be procuring the amount of duck fat necessary for cooking the cured legs. Lucky for me that when I was developing this recipe, I was in the production section of my education at the FCI—-my classmates and I were responsible for butchering the meat for the school restaurant, including a case of whole ducklings each night. After mowing though the box of ducks, quartering and cleaning each one, we were left with an awe-inspiring heap of fat, ready to be rendered and saved for confit. Although I’m sure that stranger things have been transported on the NYC subway system, I can’t imagine that my carrying home 2 quarts of rendered duck fat from class would have been considered ‘the norm.’

That said, other leftover cooked meats (though ideally not lean ones) could stand in for the duck.

digging in

Duck Confit Hash
Serves 8
for the hash:
8 oz. diced (1/4″) carrots
4 oz. diced (1/4″) parsnips
1 lb. diced (1/4″) russet potatoes
8 oz. onions
8 confit duck legs (recipe follows)
Duck fat, as needed

for serving:
8 eggs
pickled tomatoes (recipe follows)
english muffins

1. Cook the carrots, parsnips and potatoes separately a l’anglaise (in boiling, well-salted water) until slightly undercooked. Shock in ice water, drain and reserve.
2. Preheat a large skillet before searing the confit duck legs skin side down. Reduce heat and slowly render until the skin is golden and crispy.
3. Remove the legs from the pan and separate the thigh portion of the leg—shred the thigh meat and reserve the intact drumstick in a 250°F oven.
4. Remove all but one tablespoon of duck fat from the pan before adding the chopped onions. Sauté briefly until the onions are just beginning to soften.
5. Add the reserved vegetables and sauté 3-5 minutes, stirring only occasionally to allow the vegetables to caramelize.
6. Add the reserved shredded thigh meat and heat through.
7. While still in the pan, make 8 circular openings in the duck/vegetable mixture with a spoon or spatula., exposing the surface of the pan.
8. One at a time, break the eggs into a bowl or ramekin and carefully slide the eggs into the openings.
9. Continue cooking until egg whites are set and yolks are still runny.
10. Plate each egg with the hash, the reserved drumstick, and the pickled tomatoes.

curing duck legs

Duck Confit
Makes 8 Legs
for the duck and cure mixture:
120 g kosher salt
8g minced garlic
25g roughly crushed peppercorns
2 bay leaves, crushed
4 sprigs thyme, finely chopped
8 duck legs, trimmed

to confit:
1.5 K rendered duck fat

1. Combine the salt, garlic, pepper and herbs in a small bowl.
2. Sprinkle about half of the cure mixture into a hotel pan or casserole dish large enough to accommodate the duck legs in a single layer. Lay the duck legs into the pan, skin-side down. Sprinkle the rest of the cure evenly over the duck flesh.
3. Cover the duck with plastic wrap. Lay another appropriately sized pan on top of the duck and add a small weight to apply slight pressure to the curing duck. Refrigerate for 24 hours.
4. Remove the duck from the cure and rub off the excess salt mixture.
5. Melt the duck fat in a large pot (or two pots if necessary to comfortably hold the legs), then add the duck legs.
6. Cook the duck legs over low heat for 2-3 hours or until very tender when pierced with a fork.
7. When cooked, remove the duck legs to a sterile container. Strain the duck fat well and pour it over the legs to submerge them completely. Cool, then cover tightly and transfer to the refrigerator for storage

Pickled Tomatoes
The pickling liquid used to prepare this garnish is a classic Swedish “1-2-3” recipe: 1 part vinegar, 2 parts sugar and 3 parts water, infused with plenty of aromatics.

Makes 1 Qt. Tomatoes

For the Pickling Liquid:
3 cups water
2 cup sugar
1 cup white wine vinegar
1 small carrot, thinly sliced
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
6 white peppercorns
4 allspice berries
1 t black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
1 quart bite-size heirloom tomatoes

1. Combine all of the ingredients except the tomatoes in a saucepan. Over medium heat, bring the mixture to a boil, stirring to help dissolve the sugar.
2. Once the mixture has reached a boil, remove from the heat and cool.
3. Once cool, transfer the liquid (including aromatics) to a sealable container and allow to chill in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.
4. Strain the pickling liquid and discard the aromatics.
5. Place the tomatoes in a large bowl or other container.
6. Pour the strained pickling liquid over the tomatoes to submerge them completely, reserving any extra liquid for future use. Cover the tomatoes and refrigerate overnight.
7. Serve with the Duck Confit Hash.

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