It’s cold and rainy this weekend in San Francisco making it a good time for “stick to your ribs” comfort food. I have been thinking about Confit de Canard, or duck confit for a while. Recently, my interest was piqued when I noticed that the highly regarded Hayes Valley butcher – Fatted Calf – sells prepared and preserved duck confit.
On Friday afternoon, I set off in the rain for the Hayes Valley neighborhood to acquire some duck confit of my own. Those familiar with San Francisco’s municipal transit system know that there are good Muni days and bad Muni days. Other than the steady rain (which we need), the trip to pick up my duck legs was uneventful. I picked up two legs, a bit of extra duck fat to use for cooking potatoes and a few impulse purchases all the while enjoying my visit to Fatted Calf.
It was on the trip home when things went south – Muniwise. I was riding on the 49-Van Ness bus when it broke down around O’Farrell St. So about 40 bus riders, including me, disembarked and started trudging uphill in the rain. At California Street I was able to rest while enduring a long wait for a cable car. Over an hour after leaving the butcher shop I was home and happy for the opportunity to dry out.
On Saturday morning I headed down to the Ferry Building Farmer’s market to pick up a few things needed to complete the menu for dinner later Saturday evening. First on my list was curly endive, or frisee, for a Salad Lyonnaise consisting of the bitter greens with bacon lardons, mustard vinaigrette and a lightly poached egg.
I’ll just say here that it was a fantastic salad, but I’ll have to document it in a later post. My memory card tossed up an error message and I lost some photographs including those of the salad (after I had eaten it).
As usual, I made a few impulse buys. Beautiful green garlic, baby artichokes, French breakfast radishes and chanterelle mushrooms. I picked up some house made European style bacon at Golden Gate meat to use for the lardons and later stopped at a stand selling varieties of potatoes. Kennebec potatoes were recommended for pan-frying and so I added 4, or 5 to my shopping bag. Sufficiently soaked from the rain, I headed home on the California Cable car.
The traditional accompaniment to Confit de Canard is Pommes de Terre à la Sarladaise – potatoes in the style of Sarlat in southeast France, or more simply, potatoes cooked in duck fat with garlic and parsley. The potatoes take a bit longer to cook than the duck so these should be started first and be well on the way before the duck legs are heated and browned.
To serve, place the crispy duck leg on a mound of the potatoes. Pair with a nice red wine and enjoy the cold and rainy evening. As described, this recipe serves two.
For the potatoes
- 2-3 (depending on size) Yukon Gold, or another waxy, yellow potato such as the Kennebec used here
- 3 tablespoons duck fat (other fats may be reluctantly substituted…but duck fat rules)
- 2-3 cloves of minced garlic
- ½ packed cup of chopped flat leaf parsley
- Salt and pepper to taste
For the duck
- 2 prepared legs of duck confit
For the potatoes
- Peel and slice the potatoes into ¼ rounds, then rinse in cold water until it runs clear. A mandoline makes short work of slicing the potatoes and produces a uniform thickness. (But, don’t worry much about how the potatoes are cut. I have had great versions of this dish were the potatoes were ½” cubes, for instance.)
- Heat the duck fat in a heavy skillet over medium high heat. In the meantime, remove the potatoes from the water and pat dry in a clean dishcloth. Layer the sliced potatoes in the hot fat adding salt and pepper to taste. Let the potatoes cook covered until these begin browning on the bottom side (about 10 minutes). Turn the potatoes and continue cooking covered for about 8 minutes more. Add garlic and parsley and continue to cook until potatoes are browned throughout. Total cooking time is about 20 minutes depending on the size and thickness of the potato slices.
For the Duck
- In a skillet with skin side down, or under the broiler with skin side up, reheat and brown the duck until the skin is golden and crispy. About 6 to 8 minutes.
- Serve over the potatoes.