How To Make Duck Pâté | Video Technique

This video will show you how to take the innards of a duck and turn it into a delicious pâté, complete with serving recommendations. A great giblet pate such as this should be slice-able yet spreadable, with a rosy pink color and a complex, well rounded flavor.

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For more techniques, recipes and information, check out our ongoing Charcuterie Video Index. You can also view our complete How To Cook Video Index.

How To Make Duck Confit

Click Here To Watch The Second Part of This Video

Confit is a one of my all-time-favorite cooking techniques. Confit, translated from French, literally means “preserved.” It was a technique developed by French farmers before refrigeration was available to preserve meat for the leaner months. The fact that refrigerators are a common household item and yet the confit process is still alive and well is a strong testament to just how delicious this technique is.

how to make duck confit part one

Although this technique specifically talks about confit duck legs, this exact same method can be used for any number of proteins, including beef, chicken, pork and fish. Although it is preferred that the confit is cooked and stored in the fat from the same type of animal frm which your protein originally came, Olive Oil or Canola Oil can be substituted in a pinch.

The Confit Process

Start by laying your duck leg and thigh portions on a sheet pan covered with a layer of kosher salt at least 1/8 of an inch thick. I like to mix my kosher salt with 0.2% sodium nitrite by weight, which gives the finished confit a beautiful rosy color, cured "hammy" flavor and can be left to "ripen" after cooking for up to 6 months. To make this calculation, multiply the total weight of your kosher salt by .002 (ex. 1,000g salt X 0.002 = 2g nitrite or 0.2% by weight).

Season the top of the legs with ground bay leaves and ground pepper (traditionally white). Cloves are also a classic spice used in the confit process, and I’ll sometimes lay a sprig of thyme or rosemary over each leg. Completely cover the top of the legs with more kosher salt (or curing mix if using), until the legs are no longer visible.

Place another sheet pan on top and weigh it down with some heavy cans or bricks. Place in your refrigerator for about 24 hours. Leaving them in the fridge too long will cause them to become overly salty and leaving them in for too short a period of time will not allow them to soak up enough salt for them to cure out properly.
how to make duck confit part two

After the legs have been allowed to cure for 24 hours, remove from salt and rinse vigorously under cold, running water. If not rinsed thoroughly, your finished confit will taste too salty. Lay out on a wire rack and allow to dry out in your refrigerator for at least 4 hours and no longer than 24 hours. This is an optional step but I find it provides a better end product by removing any excess moisture before placing the legs in the duck fat.

how to make duck confit part three

Once the rinsed legs have had a chance to dry in your refrigerator, place in an oven-safe braising pan or Dutch oven. Cover with warm duck fat and bring to a low simmer on your stove top. After the duck legs begin to simmer, place in a 200-degree-Fahrenheit oven for 6-8 hours or until the fat is clear and the legs have settled to the bottom of the pan. Once legs are done cooking, remove from the oven and allow to cool in the fat. When cool enough to handle, transfer the legs to a storage container and cover with fat.

how to make duck confit part four

Place in your fridge for at least 1 week and up to 2 months to allow confit to “ripen.” Although you can eat the duck confit as soon as you remove it from the oven, allowing it to “ripen” for at least a few days will give it that true confit flavor.

Serving Suggestions

When ready to serve your confit, remove from the fridge and let it sit out on your countertop for about an hour or until the fat softens. Fish out your duck legs and place them in a 400°F/205°C oven for 10-15 minutes or until crispy golden brown and heated all the way through.

A classic accompaniment is duck-fat-roasted potatoes. Just think breakfast-style “country potatoes” but instead they're sautéed in duck fat. I also like to serve my confit with a salad of bitter greens such as arugula and frisée. The slightly bitter bite of these greens helps to cut the fat on your palate and offers an excellent contrast to the rich confit.

Further Information

For more techniques, recipes and information, check out our ongoing Charcuterie Video Index. You can also view our complete How To Cook Video Index.

How To Pan Roast Duck Breast | Video

This video will teach you how to pan roast duck breast, a technique that we discussed in-depth in SCS 6| Sauté ing, Searing & Pan Roasting.

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For more techniques, recipes and information, check out our ongoing Charcuterie Video Index. You can also view our complete How To Cook Video Index.

How To Butcher Duck | Step By Step Video


Learn how to break down a whole duck from start to finish. This technique is very similar to breaking down a whole chicken, which was demonstrated in CKS 27| Butchering A Whole Chicken.

For a more detailed video on how to fabricate an airline breast (as mentioned in this video), watch CKS 28| Airline Chicken Breast.

Further Information

This post is part of our ongoing Culinary Knife Skills Video Series, which teaches you a wide array of knife skills used in professional kitchens. For more information, you can also view our How To Cook Video Index.

Duck Confit Part 2 - Finishing

Further Information

For more techniques, recipes and information, check out our ongoing Charcuterie Video Index. You can also view our complete How To Cook Video Index.


How To Render Duck Fat

In SCS Episode 8, one of the main techniques that we discussed was confit. One thing we discussed is that when making duck confit, true duck fat is always preferable. Not only does the fat give great flavor to your duck, but its also an extremely versatile cooking medium that can be used for slow poaching, sauté ing or even frying.

When butchering a whole duck, save all the skin trimmings especially the large pieces that are taken from the neck and the flaps of skin at the opening of the cavity. Don’t forget to trim all the skin off of the back of the duck.

If you’re not breaking down the whole duck, try and sweet talk a local butcher into saving the skin for you. If all this sounds like too much of a pain, you can simply buy good quality duck fat online. I've never done this so I can't recommend one company over another, but I'm sure you can do a quick Google or Amazon search.

  • Place all your duck skin trimmings in the bottom of an appropriate sized pot and add a couple tablespoons of water. The steam from the water will help the initial release of duck.
  • Place the pot on the lowest setting on your stove top and cover with a lid. Make sure you keep a small crack in the lid for the steam to escape so that it doesn’t condense back down into your duck fat.
  • Let the fat render out on the stove for about 2-3 hours depending on how low you have your flame. Be sure to give the fat a good stir with some tongs about every 1/2 hour.
  • Once the fat is rendered out, strain it through a strainer and allow to cool.
  • Once cooled, store the fat in an airtight, light resistant container in your refrigerator for up to 1 month or freeze for up to 6 months.
  • By the way, don’t throw that duck skin away after you have rendered out the fat. Instead, spread them out on a sheet pan and bake until they become golden brown and crispy.
  • These duck “cracklins” can be eaten like chips, chopped and tossed into a salad like bacon bits, or used to make cracklin’ corn bread. The possibilities are endless.
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