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The cheat: confit duck

Duck, beetroot and rocket salad with duck-fat potatoes

Duck, beetroot and rocket salad with duck-fat potatoes

Whether it's bringing its riches to salads or barbecues, this winter favourite becomes a summer star with the simple addition of acid and freshness.

Duck is often thought of as a luxury ingredient, and luscious duck confit even more so. The time it takes to prepare (curing and long, slow cooking included), however, is a luxury in itself, so it's such a boon to be able to buy it ready-made.

Many delicatessens stock confit duck legs. The locally produced versions are sealed in vacuum bags and kept refrigerated, while the imported French versions of beautifully trimmed legs canned or jarred in their own fat (perfect for making the ultimate roast potatoes) are great pantry stand-bys.

Whichever you opt for, all you need to do is warm the duck in a little of its fat or a splash of oil, either in a frying pan and then in the oven, or quickly on the barbecue.

Although often considered a wintry ingredient, we love confit duck paired with something crisp and light - shredded and tossed through a crisp salad, say, and dressed with a piquant vinaigrette. It also pairs well with summer fruit such as cherries, pineapple, peaches, plums, mangoes, lychees - the list goes on. Tuck in.

Duck, beetroot and rocket salad with duck-fat potatoes
Serves 4
Preheat oven to 180C. Boil 300gm sliced kipfler potatoes in salted water until tender (6-8 minutes), then drain. Heat a little duck fat in a frying pan over medium-high heat, and brown 3 confit duck legs (2-3 minutes), transfer to a baking tray and warm through in the oven (4-5 minutes). Cook potatoes in the fat in the pan until golden and crisp. Shred duck meat and combine in a bowl with 1 cup wild rocket, ½ cup mint, 2 thinly sliced small beetroot, 100gm each blanched peas and sugar snap peas and 1 thinly sliced golden shallot. Drizzle with 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp red wine vinegar and juice of ½ orange, season to taste, toss to combine and serve.

Fried rice with duck, pineapple and mint
Serves 4-6
Heat 2½ tbsp grapeseed oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat and stir-fry 2 thinly sliced red shallots, 2 tbsp finely grated ginger, 1 finely chopped garlic clove and 1 thinly sliced birdseye chilli until fragrant (1-2 minutes). Add 1 lightly beaten egg and stir-fry to scramble (1-2 minutes). Add shredded meat of 2 confit duck legs and warm through (1 minute). Add 2 cups cooked cold jasmine rice and stir-fry until warmed through, then add 100gm chopped pineapple, a handful each torn mint and coriander and a splash each of soy sauce and fish sauce. Season to taste, top with fried shallots and serve with lime wedges.

Barbecue duck with peaches and prosciutto
Serves 4
Heat a barbecue to medium-high heat. Brush 4 halved peaches with a little olive oil and barbecue, cut-side down, until lightly charred (4-5 minutes). Barbecue 4 confit duck legs until warmed through (5-6 minutes). Toss peaches with 4 torn prosciutto slices, ¼ thinly sliced Spanish onion, a handful of basil and a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Season to taste and serve with barbecue duck legs.

Duck and pickled cherries on toasted baguette
Serves 4-6 as a snack
Stir 160ml red wine vinegar, 100ml red wine, 50gm raw caster sugar, 2 thyme sprigs and 1 fresh bay leaf in a saucepan over medium-high heat to dissolve sugar. Add 200gm pitted cherries and simmer until just tender (4-5 minutes). Refrigerate in a sterile 1-litre container for up to 2 weeks. Preheat oven to 180C. Just warm 3 confit duck legs in oven (4-5 minutes), shred meat and combine in a bowl with 1½ tbsp olive oil, 2 tsp Sherry vinegar, 1 small finely chopped golden shallot, ¼ finely chopped garlic clove, finely grated rind of ½ orange and a handful of flat-leaf parsley. Season to taste, mix well and pile on thick toasted baguette slices. Serve topped with pickled cherries.

Hot Tip
+ If you buy duck confit in duck fat, you won't need to add any fat to the pan when you're warming it through. If it's vacuum-sealed, a splash of mild-flavoured olive oil in the pan is a good idea.


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