I simply adore this dish. I first started cooking it about 19 years ago in Boston. I’d always been a massive fan of duck confit and I always remember throughout the late 1990s my good friends Gearoid and Tara Lynch, of The Olde Post Inn fame, would eat out with me a few times a year (we were broke commis chefs), and I can honestly say, if duck confit was on a menu, I had it.
At the time, Cooke’s Cafe in Dublin did the best one in Ireland, followed closely by a place called the Archway in Galway. The key to this dish is the cure. Get the cure wrong, or don’t bother to cure it, and you can be sure it’ll be average at best. Plan ahead, do it properly and, trust me, you’ll get out what you put in.
I love using Kenneth Moffitt’s Thornhill duck. He has been a producer of quality duck products for 30 years on his family farm in Blacklion, Co Cavan. Thornhill duck is specifically bred for high flavour and is beautifully tender and sweet, and the ducklings are housed in a purpose-built barn with straw bedding, free to roam during the day to ensure a comfortable foraging environment.
Gary O’Hanlon is executive chef at Chateau du Coudreceau in France.
Anise orange cured Thornhill duck leg confit with beetroot, mushroom, tarragon and sherry ragout
4 duck legs
Rock salt (coarse)
4 star anise
½ fresh orange
6 sprigs tarragon, chopped
2 large beets, cooked, peeled and diced
200g mushrooms, quartered
80ml cream sherry
500mls double cream
1 bulb of garlic
Duck fat (enough to submerge the legs when melted)
1 Rub the duck legs generously with rock salt. Press a star anise into the flesh end of each and divide half of the chopped tarragon between them. Slice the oranges and place the duck legs on top and refrigerate for at least 24 hours to cure.
2 Melt the duck fat and add the bulb of garlic. Submerge the duck legs in the fat and place in a preheated oven at 120 degrees. Confit slowly for approximately three hours or until the meat begins to fall off the bone. Take the duck from the fat and set aside.
3 Heat a frying pan, add a drizzle of oil then saute the mushrooms, and season. Add in the beets, cook for one minute, season and then de-glaze with the sherry. Now add the cream, reduce by half, add the rest of the tarragon and adjust seasoning.
4 Place the duck legs under a grill until crisp. Spoon the beetroot ragout evenly between four plates and top with the duck leg.
Kitchen Cabinet is a series of recipes for Food Month at The Irish Times from chefs who are members of Euro-Toques Ireland, in support of Ireland’s food producers. #ChefsMeetProducers.