As November drew to a close in our village — sometimes rainy, sometimes just overcast, usually cold — there’s lots of time for thinking. How much firewood will we go through this winter? What will be on the menu for Christmas dinner? What else can we do with confit de canard?
Those are pretty big questions, but on the last one, my wife Jan’s purchase of gluten-free hoisin sauce led me to a bit of a brainwave. Why not brush hoisin sauce right on to our confit de canard legs and roast them in a hot oven, to create a sort of super-fast Peking Duck? Why not indeed? And so yesterday, we did.
If you’re new to this, I’ll just explain that confit de canard refers to duck legs (including the thigh) which have been cooked slowly in melted duck fat until they are tender and delicious. When you’re ready to eat them, you simply roast the legs in a hot oven to give them nice crispy skins. As Daglan is pretty much at the centre of France’s duck country, confit is readily available in supermarkets and specialty food stores, vacuum-sealed in plastic and ready to be heated up.
With that as background, here’s how we proceeded with the duck and hoisin sauce for lunch yesterday:
First, I cut open the plastic packages, took out the duck legs, and placed them in an oven-proof glass tray. I then wrapped some cooking paper around the tray (to keep the duck from spattering fat all over) and placed them in our microwave oven for a full five minutes. The microwave melts off the most obvious fat, and starts to warm up the meat.
Here are our two duck legs, still looking pretty fatty, ready for the microwave:
Because Jan can’t tolerate gluten, we’re always happy to discover gluten-free products. And this is the gluten-free hoisin sauce she bought recently, that I was going to brush on the duck legs:
Once the duck legs were finished in the microwave, I put them in a new dish that I had covered in aluminum foil (knowing that the sauce would become awfully sticky), and placed it in a very hot oven (220 Celsius, or 425 Fahrenheit). After five minutes of that, I took out the dish and started to brush the sauce over the legs. Here’s how they looked with this first coating:
After another 10 minutes, I brushed them again, and now they were really starting to brown up. Ten more minutes, and I gave them a final brushing of hoisin sauce, and not long after that, they looked about right. Here they are:
And then it was off to the plate — not in a traditional Peking Duck sort of way, but rather in a traditional confit de canard sort of way, involving a green vegetable and potatoes. So here was my Saturday lunch:
Now I realize this wasn’t a true Peking Duck, since we never made cute little gluten-free pancakes, nor did we prepare the classic rainbow-chopped-with-crystal-fold. But hey — we’ve got winter stretching ahead of us, with lots of time for more experimenting.