This recipe for confit duck legs with cherry sauce is perfect for a summery Christmas. The Instant Pot turns the making of this delicious French classic into an easy affair. There is very little hands-on time with this recipe that does, however, need a little bit of pre-planning. The legs and breasts go through a brine stage, which is where all the flavour gets absorbed into the flesh. If you can do this for two days, all the better.
The duck cooks in its own fat that gets rendered off, and they can then be stored in this until you are ready to serve. Simply brush off the fat and put it under the grill to crisp up. The remaining duck fat can be used to make the best ever duck fat roast potatoes.
The delicious sticky, marmitey bits that are another by-product of this cooking process should not go to waste. I’ve used them in the making of this vibrant cherry sauce, which is perfect with the fall off the bone and very unctuous duck legs.
Recipe – serves 2 – The recipe for the duck confit slightly adapted from Melissa Clark – Food Republic
4 duck legs with breasts attached (Maryland cut)
1 Tbsp sea salt flakes
½ tsp allspice berries
¼ tsp cloves
¼ tsp black peppercorns
4 sprigs thyme
4 cloves garlic, crushed
3 bay leaves torn
Mixed leaves, shaved fennel and radish to serve – optional
1 Tbsp reserved duck fat from the cooking process
1 x shallot, finely chopped
¼ cup / 60ml port
200gms frozen cherries
1 Tbs dark brown sugar or Maple syrup
Zest from half an orange, which you have thickly shaved off with a vegetable peeler
Juice from one orange
2 star anise
¼ tsp black peppercorns
pinch of salt
Make in advance:
Line a small tray, baking sheet or plate with a paper towel. Using a pestle and mortar, crush the all-spice berries and peppercorns. Add these to a bowl with the salt, smashed garlic, thyme stalks, cloves and torn bay leaves.
Toss the duck legs around in the mixture to coat as much as possible and lay skin side down on the paper towel. Tuck the aromatics underneath and on top of the flesh of the duck. Store this in the fridge uncovered overnight or for 2 days. This is an important process whereby the meat absorbs the flavour and the legs dry out.
When you are ready to cook the duck, heat the Instant Pot to Sear and dust off the bay leaves, garlic and thyme from the duck legs. Fry them skin side down for 5 minutes until they turn golden and the fat has started to render off. Turn them over and brown the other side for 5 minutes. If necessary, do this in two stages. Turn off the saute mode and allow the legs to cool slightly.
Place the four duck legs fat side down at the bottom of the Instant Pot and place the garlic and herbs that were dusted off on the top of the legs. Close the lid of the Instant Pot and let it sit for a few minutes to trap moisture inside. Close the seal and set to pressure cook at High for 40 minutes. Use the quick-release method, turn the legs over and cook for a further 30 minutes on high. Allow the pressure to release naturally after the second cook.
You can either store the duck in the fat overnight and until you are ready to use it, or get stuck into making the sauce straight away. Drain the fat off through a fine-mesh sieve reserving the sticky aromatics from the pot and set the duck aside. Keep the reserved duck fat to use for cooking potatoes. Do not wash the pot and keep the additional meat bits that might be stuck on the bottom. This has a very delicious flavour.
Set the Instant Pot to sear and heat one tablespoon of reserved duck fat in the pot that was used to confit the duck legs. There should still be sticky bits on the bottom. Fry the shallot for about a minute until it softens. Add the star anise and continue to fry but making sure nothing starts to burn. Add the port and deglaze the pot. All the sticky bits at the bottom will now easily scrape off. Add the reserved sticky aromatics from the confit cooking process, the orange zest, orange juice, sugar, salt and peppercorns and set the Instant pot to cook on High for 5 minutes.
Once it has finished cooking, use the quick release method. Take the lid off and mash the cherries with a potato masher. Drain this mixture through a fine-mesh sieve, using a wooden spoon to press all the liquid out. Give the pot a quick rinse and put it back onto the Instant pot and set it to Sear. Pour most of the cherry sauce mix back into the pot reserving about 2 Tablespoons. To that, you will add 1 1/2 tsp of cornflour and mix to make a slurry. Add this mixture to the pot with the rest of the cherry sauce and cook for about a minute until it bubbles and thickens. Serve this warm with the duck breasts.
To heat the confit duck breasts, set your oven to grill/broil and pop place the legs on a baking tray skin side up. Grill until they start sizzling and are heated through.
Serve with the cherry sauce on a bed of mixed leaves of watercress, rocket and baby spinach, shaved fennel and radish.
*This post is proudly sponsored by Instant Pot South Africa
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