Making duck confit for the first time- on Thanksgiving

I'm both excited and terribly nervous!

1. Some recipes have you simmer the duck in its fat stove top, others recommend baking. I probably won't have a cooking thermometer- which method would you recommend?

2. I also see recipes that mention sauteing the duck afterwards before serving- I was under the impression you just fish them out of the fat and serve them as is- is this not true?

3. Can I save and re-use the duck fat I cook the duck in? If so, how do I do that?

Debora Morgan


max J. November 25, 2015
The best way for me is using the Sous vide method, you need to use very little of you fat reserves and you can flavour each pouch individually so you do not taint the mother load
SilverSage November 24, 2015
There is nothing to be terribly nervous about. Duck confit is actually foolproof, as long as you keep the heat very low and steady. As CV said, 200F is an ideal range, but it will take several hours at that temp. The oven is the simplest way to do that. Make sure you have a heavy dutch oven - this isn't the time for a skimpy pan.

The purpose of the sear before serving is to crisp the skin. It both looks good and tastes great. If you don't, the skin has a greasy, flabby look, and isn't appealing. If you decide to skip the sear, you may want to think about removing the skin for presentation.

I buy ducks several times a year. In my markets I can get them for under $3 a pound whole. Breasts are about $15 per pound. Rendered fat costs and arm and a leg (groaning is acceptable). Legs are unavailable. Get the whole duck and use all the parts. Cut them up - render all the excess fat - sear the breasts for dinner - confit the legs - make stock out of the carcass.

Make sure you strain the fat well if you plan to reuse it. Any bits of meat and bone left in it are more likely to cause spoilage. Duck fat keeps in a well sealed jar for a long time in the refrigerator, and freezes beautifully. Use it for anything that your grandmother used bacon grease for. Fry up potatoes, eggs, veggies, etc.
Nancy November 24, 2015
Yes to above & further to storing duck fat:
You should also remove liquid, which can cause mold, so drain it before storing.
Also check periodically in fridge for any that might develop.
Fridge storage - about 6 months.
Freezer - up to 9 months.
Debora M. November 24, 2015
Thanks for your response SilverSage!

I will take your advice on the dutch oven and the sear- although everything I've read has me putting the meat in a single layer, so a couple of pieces may go into something flimsier because they all won't fit.

All I could find were legs! And I bit the bullet and bought my damn store-bought duck fat (groaning is right). If I'm doing this, I'm doing this!

I do have cheesecloth I can strain the fat through, and tons of mason jars, but I've never canned before. Do I need to create a vacuum seal, or will proper straining and a regular closed jar be enough?
702551 November 25, 2015
I've never worried too much about standard canning techniques.

Confit is an old preparation, it was poured into clay pots and stored in root cellars to provide meat in the dead of winter. The fat itself (completely covering the solid objects) provides a barrier to aerobic microorganisms.

Once you have brought confit from its deep sleep, worrying about spoilage of the non-fat components is reasonable. If you are trying to retain the fat (worthwhile for sure), I would filter out particles and try to eliminate non-fat liquid which will naturally be on the bottom since fat is lighter than water.

I've used the confit fat to fry eggs, potatoes and beans (like frijoles).

Like Nancy mentions, keeping the confit fat in the fridge for six months sounds like a reasonable estimate.

Have fun with it!
702551 November 24, 2015
To properly make confit, you need to keep the fat between 190-200 degrees Fahrenheit for a long time, hours and hours. If the fat gets too hot, the duck ends up stringy as the heat destroys some of the connective tissue.

Stovetop works as long as you have a thermometer and closely monitor the pot for temperature changes.

With an oven, you just set the thermostat to 200 degrees and walk away. The oven's thermostat maintains the proper cooking temperature.

You don't have to reheat it, but a lot of people prefer it that way. Some people just don't like the cold, congealed fat I suppose.

I happen to like crispy duck skin; if you saute the duck confit after extracting it from the fat, you can get crispy skin. If you're not into crispy duck skin, feel free to ignore that step.
Debora M. November 24, 2015
CV, thank you so much for this information! Turns out I do have a thermometer, but I was leaning more towards the oven because it just makes more sense to me, I'll be able to monitor it less and get other things done. Thanks for confirming!

I do like crispy duck, and cold congealed fat doesn't sound too appetizing, even if it is duck fat, so I will probably saute. Should I let the duck rest in (or out?) the fat for a bit when I take it out of the oven, or just saute them right away?

Thank you so much for the explanations, this is exactly what I wanted to know :)
702551 November 24, 2015
I have never eaten duck confit immediately after it was made. I age my confit at least three months to develop the flavors.

For your situation, I would be inclined to pull the duck out of the fat when it is done, then let rest/cool for at least an hour before trying to saute.
Debora M. November 25, 2015
CV, thanks again. I will be adjusting my cooking schedule accordingly!
Sara A. November 18, 2022
Serious Eats uses 225. They don’t explain why they use over 200 and I’m a bit confused
AntoniaJames November 24, 2015
Use this recipe: The title "really easy" says it all.
I highly recommend using any leftover duck, with a touch of the fat, in fresh skinny noodles with XO sauce ( recipe). That use is one of the main reasons that I make Clark's recipe as often as I do - which is, whenever I run out of duck or duck fat. ;o)
Debora M. November 24, 2015
Thanks Antonia! I have a couple of recipes that I'll be working with, it was just that I was curious about the reasons behind using an oven vs. a stove top, and whether or not sauteing the duck was necessary or a personal preference!
Samantha W. November 24, 2015
Melissa Clark's recipe (here: would be a great confit to make. You'll want to start a day ahead of time—tomorrow!
Debora M. November 24, 2015
I was originally going to do that recipe, but was talked out of it by a chefs wife who insisted I make a true confit haha. I have my duck fat, will be prepping my little fellas in salt and rosemary and whatnot tomorrow :)
Caroline L. November 24, 2015
hi there debora! i'm not sure about the first question, but re: your second question, i think the sautéing is just a serving option—fishing out of the oil is fine, too! and you can definitely save the oil. (use it for roasting potatoes!!)
Debora M. November 24, 2015
Thanks Caroline!
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