Paul Flynn: Three recipes that make the most of precious duck fat

Keep a tub of the fat in your fridge, it makes great roast potatoes that get better with every use

Crispy chicken legs and potatoes, fondue of leeks and dill

I first came across confit in the form of a crisp and unctuous duck leg, many moons ago. It was love at first sight and the relationship has endured over many years without dimming for an instant. The process is ancient, a Gascon tradition that symbolises all that is good about French cooking. It was a form of preservation, in which the meat was salted, poached in its own fat then placed in a crock. The fat should completely cover the meat, this acts as a seal and a preservative. Before refrigeration, the crock was buried in the ground to keep it at a constant temperature through the winter.The meat could last for months. These days, duck legs are frequently canned and are a commonplace feature in the traiteurs of France, lucky them.

The fat from duck or goose is precious. Rendered down, it makes the most wonderful roast potatoes. There is a tub of duck fat in my fridge at all times. I tip the excess fat from the occasional smoked streaky rasher into it too, to add another layer of flavour to my roasties.

The confit process normally requires full immersion of the meat in the fat, but in fairness that requires an inordinate amount of it. I’m paring back here, using less and also cutting out the salting process as we don’t need to be digging up our dinner from the ground.

Pork chops, fennel, garlic and lemon. Photograph: Harry Weir
Celeriac, soused mushrooms, smoked bacon, cream cheese and apple

Today, I’m making all these dishes for two, for a little change. You will need two hefty pork chops, cut from a rack. The fennel is tart and crisp, perfect to cut through the richness of the chops. The secret with all these dishes is to pack the fat with flavour. You can use the fat multiple times, it gets better as it goes along.


I’m using chicken legs as the lesser cuts of meat always work better for confit. The potatoes will go in as well, and they will accept the process gratefully. The leeks bring colour and the dill and crème fraiche a bit of welcome perk.

I love celeriac, I’m serving it here with two amiable friends. It’s a lovely comforting dish for a winter’s evening.

Recipe: Pork chops with garlic, fennel and lemonOpens in new window ]

Recipe: Crispy chicken legs and potatoes, fondue of leeks and dillOpens in new window ]

Recipe: Celeriac, soused mushrooms, smoked bacon, cream cheese and appleOpens in new window ]