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I spent all day yesterday recipe testing. My freezer had gotten unruly and I had declared that nothing else was allowed in it so that all of the game meat I had collected since September could have a proper home until I could test it all for the “Girl Hunter” book.

That has been the rule, strictly enforced with a deer antler.

But then I decided I wanted my freezer back. It was looking ragged. So I got bold. I took everything out and put it in a giant metal bowl and defrosted it and gave myself two days to test every recipe that needed to be tested.

I recruited a friend who had naively offered to help. She has now gone where few other women have gone before… meat wise. There were elk stuffed cabbage rolls, and corned elk, and venison jerky, and quail kabobs, and javelina chili, and Moroccan venison stew, and juniper poached pheasant, and the list goes on.

And as we did, we tried to come up withe the subtitle for the “Girl Hunter” book… ie. redefining slow food, one hunt at a time… antler to tail… one wild chefs romp… it got interesting as the day wore on. If you have any subtitle ideas, shout ’em out in the comments!

We’re going in for round two today.

So while I cook my little soul out, I thought I’d share a recipe on how to confit duck so that you can make that wild duck terrine I posted a few weeks ago. It is time to make the duck terrine.

It is time.

The story begins with two duck legs, preferably with the skin on. With wild ducks, you can’t always be picky, but this picture is not of a wild duck leg, therefore you can be picky and demand skin on your legs.

In December, while duck hunting in New Orleans, I confited a lot of duck parts, including the livers and hearts. I highly recommend that as well. As an afternoon snack or in a terrine.

Duck fat. Also important. I sorted through my refrigerator and found some strange looking mason jars yesterday, filled with all kinds of fats, from duck fat, to leaf lard (awesome for pies!) to fat back that my butcher gave me cause he’s a flirt. There was also some homemade yogurt which the quail are currently taking a bath in before they turn into kabobs.

Nevertheless, you can render your own duck fat. It is cheaper and lasts a long time in your refrigerator and comes in handy.

You’ll want to expose the leg bone to help the cure.

Simply cut around it with a paring knife and pull it up with your fingers.

Then make a mixture of salt and spices and a few crushed garlic cloves. If you’re feeling feisty, you can also add orange and lemon zest and even a bit of star anise.

Sprinkle the mixture on to the duck, generously.

On the skin side as well.

Give it a few turns of pepper too.

Lay the garlic in the skillet with the flesh side down. Then you cover it all and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight.

Once you retrieve it, you rinse the legs very well and add a healthy dollop of duck fat, enough to come up the sides and cover the exposed flesh. The skin will crisp on its own and render additional fat for the pan.

And this is what you have when it’s all over.

The skin is crispy and salty.

And the meat just shreds from the bone in a buttery kind of way. You may just it eat all on the spot like I er… may have.

Here’s a recipe for my fancy version. You can keep it simple or play with flavorings, as long as you have the fat and the salt.

“Duck Confit”

Prep Time12 hours
Cook Time3 hours
Total Time15 hours
Servings: 4 servings


  • 4 cloves garlic crushed
  • 1 tablespoon Kosher salt
  • zest of 1 orange
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 sprig rosemary picked and roughly chopped
  • 2 sprigs thyme picked and roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns cracked
  • ½ teaspoon fennel seeds optional
  • 1 piece star anise crushed (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon juniper berries optional
  • 4 mallard or speckled goose duck legs about 16 oz or the equivalent in smaller duck legs, or gizzards, hearts, and necks
  • 6 tablespoons duck fat


  • Make the confit salt by combining all of the ingredients, except the duck and duck fat, together in a small bowl.
  • Rinse the duck and pat dry.
  • Place the duck in a baking dish or skillet and rub on all sides with the salt mixture. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  • Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F and remove the duck from the refrigerator.
  • Rinse the legs or duck parts very well and wipe out the pan and return the duck to the skillet.
  • Add the duck fat into the skillet and cover with tin foil.
  • Place in the oven and cook for 2 to 3 hours. If there is skin on the legs, remove the foil in the last 30 minutes to crisp. If not, turn the meat over halfway through cooking. It is ready when the meat is very tender.
  • Remove the skillet from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes. Serve hot or eat cold over a salad. It is also excellent in a terrine or a cassoulet.


  • Julia
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 11:24 am

    Yes, crazy crazy good! Can I please move in now? I've been trying to think of more subtitles but my brain is too cold. What if you remove "redefining" and make it "slow food, one hunt at a time" ?

    • Post Author
      Posted January 26, 2011 at 11:52 am

      I like that. They're a little worried about running into politics with the term "slow food." Last night I thought this one might be good, "One Woman's (Wild) Journey, From Field to Stream to Table"

      Watcha think?

  • Post Author
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    Wow, I want his recipe! That sounds intriguing.

  • Steve
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    Looks great!

  • Editilla~NO Ladder
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 7:41 pm

    Aw'man… when you gonna come back to Nola?!?!?
    Sooner than later we hope.

  • Athena Gee
    Posted January 28, 2011 at 9:42 pm

    A good friend of mine keeps talking about this great duck confit that she had at the new restaurant in town the other day…but this duck confit looks like the prize! Thanks for the recipe

  • Cubicle
    Posted January 30, 2011 at 7:59 pm

    I've never been brave enough to try making duck confit…but you gave me inspiration! And the photos look amazing. Yum!

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