Duck Confit & The Cocote

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For over a year now I have been longing for one of our large cocotes.  The fact is my little kitchen apartment could not handle anymore cookware.  Things are so bad that I have to empty my oven of ten items or more before using it. The perfect vessel for cooking and storing duck confit is a large clay pot,  just like the cocotes sold at The Spanish Table. Last week, my  self-control caved to a wonderful recipe I found on the Michael Ruhlman blog.  My idea for purchasing the cocote was finally supported! How could my lovely wife argue with a fridge full of luscious duck confit?

Instead of using rendered duck fat for the confit Ruhlman’s recipe calls for using only olive oil.  The recipe is simple and straight forward, home cook friendly.  He mentions using different seasoning methods for the duck from traditional to more of a modern spin.  I went modern with a combination of great spices that I picked up from The Spanish Table: tellicherry peppercorns, white peppercorns, grains of paradise, star anise, cinnamon stick, coriander, thyme, and Bolivian pink salt.

I decided to use Ybarra olive oil to deliver a nice fruity olive flavor to the duck.  If you want more of a neutral flavor from your oil use the El Toro brand oil.  El Toro is not a pure EVOO and has less intense olive flavor.

I special ordered 12 duck legs from Keller’s Meats in Albuquerque.   It was not only the only source I could find but the quality was excellent. My spice blend for 12 legs is as follows 1 1/2 tbsp of whole Tellicherry peppercorns, 1 tsp whole white peppercorns, 1/2 tbsp of corriander, and 1/2 tbsp grains of paradise. I toasted them all in a skillet and ground them up. Then I added a tsp of dried thyme, two whole pieces of star anise broken up into chunks, and 1/2 of a cinnamon stick broken into small whole pieces.  As Ruhlman mentioned, I used his recommended “four four-finger pinches” of salt per duck leg (see Bolivian sea salt above). I then roughly minced six garlic cloves.  I mixed all the spices with the garlic together and rubbed the duck legs down with it. Once added into the cocote, I put the legs into the refrigerator to rest overnight. In the morning, I rinsed all the duck legs, placed them back into the cocote, covered them completely in olive oil, and placed the whole lot into a 180 degree oven to cook for at least 8 hours.  Now here is the hardest part of this recipe, let the confit rest in your fridge for a month.  Ruhlman explains why on his blog, so I will not go into detail.  The good thing is, with proper storage, the confit can last the entire winter without spoiling.

Once I eat my way through all of that confit I have more plans for the cocote.  Local Santa Fe Chef Kim has used the pot for baking bread.  My fellow employees have used their cocotes for long braises of pork shoulder and lamb shanks.  Cocotes are perfect for creating comfort foods that help us through these cold winter months.

Cheers, Rob@TST Santa Fe

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