Creamy Peppercorn Duck Rillette

Author Notes

Extremely rich and creamy duck rillette made from duck confit and scented with fresh peppercorns and ground white pepper. Heavy on a bruschetta. For additional photos: —Mandy @ Lady and pups

Test Kitchen Notes

This is my first time making duck confit and rillette at home and I was astounded at how easy it all was. Mandy's recipe is straightforward and the instructions are very clear and easy to follow. The resulting duck rillette was dreamy. It's unctuous, succulent, and full of flavor from the duck meat and fat. The mustard and pepper cut through some of the richness and provide a much needed sharpness to the dish. Taking a leaf from Nigel Slater's book, I served the rillette stuffed in crispy baked potato skins. I very nearly died from pleasure. —anthngn

  • Makes 2 large jars
  • 6 tablespoons coarse sea salt
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 4 Peking duck legs
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh green peppercorn (if not available, use dry green peppercorn)
  • 5 sprigs of thyme
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 3 to 4 cups duck fat or olive oil
  • 1/4 cup plus 4 tablespoons of Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons ground white pepper
  • 1 turn of freshly ground black pepper
In This Recipe
  1. To cure the duck legs: pulse coarse sea salt and fresh bay leaves in the food processor until blended together as “green salt.” Wash the duck legs and pat dry. Rub the green salt all over the duck legs and make sure every surface is covered. Lay them flat and separated on a tray and refrigerate for at least 12 hours and up to 24 hours.
  2. To confit the duck legs: preheat the oven on 300º F (150º C). After the duck legs have marinated and sort of “cured,” you can discard the liquid that was drawn out of from salting and wash them under water to rinse out all the salt. Pat them very dry with a clean towel, and place them in a deep and narrow pot that’s just big enough in diameter to hold the duck legs. The more tightly you pack the legs and the less empty space left in between them and the pot, the less oil you’ll need to submerge them. Scatter the peppercorns, thyme, and garlic into the pot. Pour in the duck fat (if you don’t have enough duck fat, you could substitute partially with olive oil) until all the ingredients are submerged by at least 1/2 inch (2 centimeters).
  3. Put the lid on, and bake in the oven for 3 to 4 hours, until the meat has completely pulled away from the knuckle and a fork can be easily inserted without any effort. Take the pot out and let it cool down to room temperature. Carefully remove the legs without breaking them, then strain the fat through a sieve into another container. Many recipes would tell you to leave the the duck legs in the fat and refrigerate, but I find it very difficult to separate the duck legs from the cold fat, so here’s what I do: I wrap the duck legs very tightly with plastic wrap to prevent drying-out, then refrigerate the legs and fat separately. (The reason for refrigeration is because it’s better to work with chilled or cold fat in rillettes for a creamier texture.)
  4. Once the legs and fat are chilled, remove the meat and skin from the legs and discard all the bones. Set the meat in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment. Roughly cut the meat into shorter pieces with a scissor (I find the muscle tissue in duck leg to be quite stringy, but roughly cutting it produces better texture in the rillette). Add 1/4 cup of Dijon mustard, ground white pepper and 1 turn of freshly ground black pepper. With the machine mixing on medium-high speed, start adding in 3/4 cup of duck fat very, very slowly. Do this 1 teaspoon at a time in the beginning and increase the amount after mid-way. The mustard and the fat has to form a beautiful emulsion. If the emulsion breaks, the rillette will taste greasy instead of creamy.
  5. Once 3/4 cup of duck fat is completely incorporated, I stop the machine and taste-test it. In my case, the duck legs were slightly larger than usual, so I ended up adding 2 additional tablespoons of mustard and duck fat. The goal is that the rillette be soft and moist, not dry and craggy.
  6. Transfer the rillette into air-tight containers. Try not to include air pockets. Pour a thin layer of duck fat on top to seal it (in this case it has to be pure duck fat otherwise it won’t solidify) and refrigerate it for at least 1 day. Keep the rest of the duck fat for your next confit (some liquid usually comes out of the duck during cooking which should be “jello-ed” once chilled, and thus easy to separate from the fat). Serve on warm, toasted bread with a couple drops of extra virgin olive oil. Dangerously snackable.
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