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The Delights of Duck Confit

What: Duck Confit
Where: My NYC Apartment
Pretty Duck Legs Rubbed and Marinating
This Search takes me to my kitchen, to cook one of my favorite dishes: Duck Confit. Duck Confit is duck legs (both drumstick and thigh), marinated for 24 hours and then cooked slowly, at a low temperature, submerged in unctuous DUCK FAT, for about 6 hours. The result is a tender, salty delectable meat that tastes…delicious. SO delicious. 
Duck legs in their first 12 hours of marinating
Whenever I make duck confit, which is fairly often, I make a large-ish batch of 12 duck legs. Because it lasts so long (months in your fridge), and because making 12 duck legs is pretty much just as labor intensive as making 4, I recommend you do the same--you will always find a way put these magnificent legs to good use.

For this recipe you will need: 
Kosher salt, sugar, coarsely ground black pepper, about 6 cloves of garlic, a small piece of ginger, 12 duck legs and about 7 cups of duck fat. You can always adapt this recipe to make fewer legs, but, like I said, you might as well make a big batch. 

NOTE: I find that your average supermarket does not carry duck legs. So I always order them from my butcher: Florence Meat Market (An amazing, old school butcher on Bleecker and John Street--if you've never been, check it out. Their meat is excellent quality, and it's just a special place.) However you get your legs, once you have them in hand, here's how to proceed:

Make a rub for the 12 legs:
3/4 cup kosher salt 
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper--Do your self a favor and get the pre-ground pepper. For this recipe, it's fine.
6 tablespoons thinly sliced garlic
6 teaspoons roughly chopped fresh ginger

Mix all of the ingredients together in a small bowl. Find a dish that's big enough to hold the duck legs in one compact layer. I use a 15x11inch Pyrex pan. Rub both sides of the legs with the mixture--giving a little extra love to the thicker area of the legs, like around the joint between the leg and the thigh. Use all of the rub. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and stick in the fridge for 24 hours, turning the legs over once, after about 12 hours. 

A big mound of duck fat--doesn't it look like mashed potatoes?
After the 24 hours is up, remove the duck legs and rinse throughly. The legs develop this weird membrane that I peel off as I'm rinsing. You wanna get as much excess salt, pepper, ginger, garlic, etc. off as you can or the legs will be very salty. 

Preheat your oven to 225 degrees. Now it's time for the 7 cups of duck fat. (Where do you get 7 cups of duck fat? Well, you can buy a whole duck or two, cut off all the skin and render it by placing it in a pan over very low heat, and cooking until the fat has liquified. A laborious process. Or you can just buy duck fat--D'Artagnan and Rougie conveniently sell it in jars. It's a bit pricey, but once you've got the fat, it lasts a very long time in the fridge or freezer and comes in handy often--try roasting some potatoes in duck fat. Yum.) Melt the fat in a large pot--one that will comfortably hold all of the duck in one layer. Once the fat is melted, place the rinsed duck legs in the pan, skin side up. 
Duck legs submerged in melted duck fat, ready to go into the oven for 6 hours
And now you're pretty much done! Cover the pot and place in the oven. And then walk away for 6 hours. Sometimes I like to leave my apartment for a bit, so that when I return I come home to the smell of that glorious roasting duck. It is mouth watering and intoxicating. 

After 6 hours, take the pan out of the oven. Take the top off the pot and let the legs cool. You can either use the legs right away (see below for some ideas), or place in a large tupperware. Once in the tupperware, strain the cooled fat over the legs and cover. The duck will keep up to 2 months--or even longer--in the fridge. When you want to use them, just take the container out of the fridge to allow the fat to soften, and then gently pull the legs out, scrape off any fat that's clinging to them, and cook!

And there it is. Duck Confit. It's the culinary gift that keeps on giving. Relatively simple to make and incredibly rewarding. Enjoy!


COOK THE LEG WHOLE: Heat a pan over medium heat and sear the legs, skin side down, until the skin is golden brown and very crispy. Stand back--the fat tends to pop. Serve the duck as the main course with some of your favorite sides--creamy polenta is great, maybe some haricot verts with toasted almonds. The possibilities are endless.

SHRED THE DUCK: Remove and discard the skin (it's painful, I know, to throw out the yummy skin. If you feel really sad about this, fry it up and serve it as a little hors d'oeuvres on some toasts with a little arugula and currant jam). Then shred the meat. You can use this in so many ways--with pasta, in a sandwich, a quesadilla, pizza, in a salad. It tastes good on EVERYTHING.

Lobster Mania in Ogunquit, Maine

What: Mini-Honeymoon 
Where: Ogunquit, Maine
Lobster Benedict at the Cove Cafe. Yup.
Let me start this Search by apologizing for the fact that I haven't posted since February. I know that is very bad blog etiquette. But I got engaged in December, and I got married July 4th. So basically I was doing nothing but planning a wedding and running a catering company for about 6 months. I had no time!


But I'm back and happily married. It was a big, beautiful, crazy wedding. The event took place at Skylight Studios, a really cool loft and roof top space on 36th and 10th Avenue. We had perfect views of the Macy's Fireworks display. It was a truly magical evening (ending with 4:00am room service at the swanky Standard Hotel--a grilled cheese never tasted so good).


Planning the wedding was a fun, but very stressful process. We decided to wait a bit for our big honeymoon (we're leaving in less than a week for the island of Corsica), but felt that we needed to get away immediately post-wedding just to regroup. We chose Ogunquit, Maine for our mini-moon. 

 Ogunquit, Maine is a very beautiful place.

Ogunquit was gorgeous and wonderful. Just a 4 1/2 hour drive from the city and you are transported to a charming New England seaside town. The beach is huge. The water is crystal clear and Caribbean blue (and freezing). Everything about this place is great. Perfect place to spend a relaxing couple of summer days.

Expansive beach makes for some lovely relaxing days. The water is a bit chilly, but...refreshing?

Here's the thing about Ogunquit. Yes, it's charming. And yes, you can relax for hours on a beautiful beach. But Ogunquit has something very special about it--something we really did not expect that sets it apart from other relaxing beach vacations. INCREDIBLE food. We were constantly shocked at the quality of the food we encountered-- from blueberries, to maple syrup, to ice cream we ate unbelievably well. But best of all was the undisputed King of the Foodie Culture here in Ogunquit: Lobster.
Lobster roll at MC Perkins Cove. Perfection in a Sandwich

The lobster in Maine is unlike any other lobster anywhere. It is very sweet and tender, briny and fresh and clean tasting. It is exquisite and delicate and perfect. Words do not do it justice. In most of the places we went to, the lobsters were small: about 1-1 1/2 lbs. This is really the best size to showcase the qualities of this delicious sea-creature. In one place we went, the lobster was so small, that the shell had not quite developed and I could effortlessly break through it with my thumb--it broke in my hands like a piece of parchment paper. 

Lobster and Steamers dinner at Mabel's in Kennebunkport.

I ate lobster for every single meal we had in Ogunquit. 8 meals in a row. It was that good. I had it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I had a lobster omelet, lobster benedict, steamed lobster, lobster rolls (some dressed with butter, others with mayonnaise), lobster salad, mushroom stuffed lobster, lobster pot pie, lobster casserole and lobster pizza. It was special every time I ate it. 


Hearty Lobster filled Baked Casserole at Maine Diner

For the most part, I'll let the photos do the talking here. But I have to shout out one particularly memorable dining experience we had--at the French-Laundry-esque "Arrows" restaurant. 

Fried Prosciutto Wrapped Oysters at Arrows

Arrows is located about 5 minutes from the town of Ogunquit, in a farmhouse style building surrounded by beautiful, lush gardens. We went on a Tuesday night around 8:30 p.m., which is apparently late for Ogunquit dining. When we arrived (in the 1988 red Mercedes Limo arranged for us by the owners of our adorable bed and breakfast, Two Village Square) there was only one other couple dining. By the middle of our meal, we had the entire place to ourselves. Pretty romantic and awesome for the first night of our mini-moon.

Matt and I in front of our 1988 Red Mercedes Limo.

We went for the epic 10 course tasting menu. Each course was exquisite. There were Fried Oysters Wrapped in House Cured Prosciutto, Lobster Pot Pie with Morel Mushrooms and a Creamy Custard Sauce, Grilled Lobster with Lemongrass Butter alongside Butter Poached Lobster Claws with Red Curry, Red Wine Poached Beef Tenderloin with Yukon Gold Potato Salad, Prosciutto Wrapped House Smoked Trout with Frisee…it went on and on. One delectable bite after the next. Fine dining at its finest. The coolest part about the meal was that after the marathon eating session ended, and we asked for our bill we got a very special surprise. My sister and brother had called the restaurant and paid for the entire meal. Instead of a bill, we got a card that said "Congratulations. Love, your siblings!" Amazing. Maybe we shouldn't have gotten that extra glass of champagne :) 
Outstanding Lobster Pot Pie at Arrows

 Arrows' Lobster 2 ways--butter poached with curry and grilled with lemongrass
Special dessert for the happy couple. This was one of about 4 desserts. God I'm stuffed at this point.

Here's a list of some of the other places we highly recommend in Ogunquit and the surrounding areas in Maine. Go eat some lobster!

 Lobster omelet at the Cove Cafe: huge chunks of lobster, mushrooms and cheese. WOW.

Cove Cafe: Very cute breakfast and lunch place located in the lovely seaside area of Perkins Cove. Get the Lobster Benedict and the Lobster Omelet. Oh, and the Blueberry Pancakes. Damn those were good pancakes.

 Positively perfect blueberry pancakes with local maple syrup at the Cove Cafe

MC Perkins Cove: We loved this place so much we went back twice--once for lunch and once for dinner. For lunch, don't miss the fried calamari with fried chickpeas and the lobster roll. For dinner, lobster pizza and the simply steamed whole lobster. Probably the single best lobster I have ever had.

 Delicate fried calamari with chickpeas at MC Perkins Cove

Maine Diner: Located outside of Ogunquit, in Wells, Maine. An AWESOME diner. Only in Maine do you step into what appears to be a regular old diner and find lobster dishes galore on the menu. I had a lobster roll (couldn't get enough of this perfect sandwich of big glossy chunks of lobster meat dressed lightly and served cold, with mayo or served warm with melted butter) and Matt had the lobster casserole: a big ramekin filled with chunks of lobster meat and stuffing and baked. Mmmmmm.

 Lobster Stuffed Mushrooms at Mabel's

Mabel's Lobster Claw: In Kennebunkport, this is a cozy old restaurant/seafood shack specializing in lobster dinners with a big lobster and steamers, a baked potato and cole slaw. Also had a great clam chowder and lobster stuffed mushrooms. 

Road Food Heaven: Clam Shack in Kennebunkport

The Clam Shack: Also in Kennebunkport, this is a must go to classic "Road Food" type place. Just a stand with some out door seating and a lot of hungry seagulls. We got another lobster roll--the best one we had during the trip (and believe me, there were many) and the fried clam strips. Oh, and some onion rings. And some fries. Delish.

Excellent fried seafood and lobster roll lunch at the Clam Shack. I am a happy wife.He is a happy husband.

We are a happy, lobster filled couple.