Using a safety pin or a needle, prick the skin of your duck legs all over (try not to poke into the meat, just poke the skin). Rub your duck legs with salt, pepper, garlic, and thyme, place them in a small glass dish (a glass loaf pan works), cover, and
refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours.
After 24 to 36 hours, preheat your oven to 200° F.
Heat your duck fat in a saucepan until just melted (don’t get it hot, just melt it).
Once it’s melted, remove it from the heat allow it to cool slightly. Pour fat over the seasoned duck legs until they are completely submerged. Throw the bay leaf into the fat, cover the dish with foil, and cook for approximately 4 hours, or until the meat is easily pulling away from the bones.
After four hours, carefully remove the duck legs from the dish with a slotted spoon. Strain your fat through a fine sieve or cheesecloth, discarding all solids and reserving the fat (or keep the fat to spread on bread). Place duck legs back into cooking vessel and cover in strained fat. Let cool at room temperature for about an hour before refrigerating for 8 hours.
Right before serving, remove legs from fat, scraping off excess, and cook in a cast-iron skillet, skin-side down, for about 15 minutes, or until the meat is heated through and the skin is crispy.
Cara Nicoletti is a butcher and writer living in Brooklyn, New York. Cara started working in restaurants when she moved to New York in 2004, and was a baker and pastry chef for several years before following in her grandfather and great-grandfathers' footsteps and becoming a butcher. She is the writer behind the literary recipe blog, Yummy-Books.com, and author of Voracious, which will be published by Little, Brown in 2015. She is currently a whole-animal butcher and sausage-making teacher at The Meat Hook in Williamsburg.