Duck Leg Confit
If you’ve ever eaten duck leg confit (pronounced “con-fee”), you know what a treat it is: crisp, flavorful skin and unctuous, tender meat. (One online source sells duck legs prepared this way for $10 each!) Traditionally, duck confit is submerged in duck fat before being cooked for hours at low temperatures. Our method does not require huge quantities of costly duck fat, nor does it take much active time. Your Traeger does most of the work.
- 1/4 cup coarse salt (kosher or sea)
- 1 quart cold water
- 12 whole black peppercorns, crushed
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- 1 bay leaf, coarsely crumbled
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander (optional)
- 6 duck leg quarters (leg with thigh attached), preferably Moulard
- Olive oil
Combine the salt and the water in a large resealable plastic bag (or a large bowl) and stir until the salt crystals dissolve. Add the peppercorns, thyme, garlic, bay leaf, coriander, if using, and duck leg quarters. Seal the bag, put in a pan or bowl (to contain any potential leaks) and refrigerate for 24 hours.
Drain the duck leg quarters (discard the brine) and rinse under cold running water. Pat dry with paper towels. Prick the skin all over with a darning needle or sharp fork, being careful not to nick the meat. (It helps if you go in at an angle.) This creates channels for the fat to escape, making for crispier skin.
Start the Traeger on Smoke with the lid open until the fire is established (4 to 5 minutes). Set the temperature to 400 degrees F and preheat, lid closed, for 10 to 15 minutes.
Meanwhile add enough olive oil to a large cast iron skillet or roasting pan to film the bottom. Arrange the duck leg quarters in the skillet or roasting pan in a single layer, skin-side down. Put the skillet or roasting pan on the grill grate. Roast the duck for 30 minutes, or until the duck fat begins to render. Reduce the temperature to 300 degrees F. Turn the duck legs so they are skin-side up. Cover the skillet or roasting pan tightly with foil.
Continue to roast the duck for 2 hours. Uncover the duck and roast for an additional hour, or until the skin is crisp and golden brown. Remove the duck and serve immediately. (Alternatively, you can refrigerate the duck for up to a week. Re-crisp the skin by grilling the duck, skin-side down, in a hot cast iron skillet or on your Traeger.) Strain the remaining duck fat through cheesecloth or a fine-mesh kitchen strainer and transfer to a covered container; refrigerate for up to 6 months. Use the flavorful fat to sauté potatoes or sturdy greens.