A few months back, J. Lohr Winemaker Jeff Meier wrote a post about his experience at Tante Marie’s Cooking School in San Francisco. His first post, which showcased a recipe for Spanish Roast Chicken, can be read here. Below, find Part 2 in this series, featuring an incredible recipe for Duck Confit!
Submitted by Winemaker Jeff Meier
Day two of cooking school continued with more rain falling, which was much needed for our vineyards, but not so great for walking. However, since I had packed an umbrella, I decided to make the 45-minute walk from the Montgomery BART station to our North Beach classroom. Having worked in San Francisco as a “gopher” for a large corporation my first two summers during college, I wanted to rekindle some fond memories of walking through the financial district delivering legal documents to Pillsbury, Madison & Sutro, and other businesses around downtown. Also, I had never really walked from the financial district to North Beach, and was curious about what I’ve missed out on. I was first struck and re-impressed by the quality and style of architecture of the many early Twentieth Century buildings (many post-1906 earthquake), with their art deco facades and embellishing. I walked past the Alioto’s law offices, Francis Coppola’s quirky restaurant and hotel, and the strip clubs on Columbus and Broadway, before entering San Francisco’s Italian district – North Beach – with its myriad coffee shops, restaurants and Victorian architecture. I was particularly intrigued by the Goorin Bros. Hat shop on Stockton Street, established in 1895, which was impeccably maintained and stocked full of beautifully crafted chapeaus – just a shame I don’t wear hats! Before I knew it I was passing St. Peter and Paul Church on Washington Square and within ten minutes was back in the classroom at Tante Marie’s.
That morning, as we munched on fruit, fresh breads and cured meats, Malcolm began to go through the day’s recipes that were stacked in front of each student. He started at 10:00 and finished at 10:45! I felt exhausted as he listed them: Duck Confit, Thomas Keller’s Simple Roast Chicken, Osso Buco with Toasted Pine Nut Gremolata, Pork Loin Chops with Mushroom-Caper Pan Sauce, Roasted Duck Breasts with Pomegranate-Chile Sauce, Whole Beef Tenderloin in a Salt Crust with Wild Mushroom Sauce, Seared Strip Steak with Roasted Grapes, Watercress and Roquefort, Mortadella Stuffed Pork Loin, Braised Pork with Poblano Cream Sauce, Fish Meunière Thon au Façon de Marseille, Whole Branzino Baked in Salt with Salsa Verde, Slow-Roasted Red Wine Lacquered Salmon, Sicilian Style Chicken with Roasted Lemons, Capers and Olives, and Island Pork Salad. And of course with the unused cuts of meat we made chicken stock and fish stock. In each case, Malcolm described the techniques to cook them, the ingredients, and where in the kitchen we could find the special items that we needed. Today was obviously “meat day.” We were to use some of the meats we practiced our knife skills on the day before, and we were instructed on additional meats brought in that morning. After describing all of our recipes, Malcolm read off each one, asking for volunteers who’d be interested in making each item. Mark, Susan and I volunteered for the Osso Buco and the Duck Confit. As we found out, both of these dishes are prepared on one day and consumed a day or two following – in the case of the duck, we didn’t cook until Friday, but needed to marinate for most of the week before getting to taste the fruits of our labor. As each dish was finished, they were plated and brought out to the center cooking demonstration area for sampling by all. Needless to say, with the number of meat dishes prepared on day two, no one went home hungry. I even decided I needed to walk back to BART to burn off some calories!
Students in my class put the finishing touches on their dishes.
Although we didn’t get to try our dishes until Friday, they were really delicious. I’m pleased to share Malcolm’s recipe for Duck Confit below. Enjoy!
3 Tbsp coarse salt
4 cloves garlic, smashed
1 shallot, peeled and thinly sliced
A few sprigs of fresh thyme
Coarsely ground black pepper
4 duck legs with thighs
4 cups of duck fat (that’s correct!) usually sold frozen
1. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of salt in the bottom of a dish or plastic container large enough to hold the duck pieces in a single layer. Evenly scatter half the garlic, shallots and thyme in the container. Arrange the duck, skin side up, over the salt mixture, then sprinkle the remaining salt, garlic, shallots, and thyme and a little pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 3 to 4 days.
2. Preheat oven to 225 degrees. Melt the duck fat in a small saucepan. Wash the salt and seasonings from the duck. Arrange the duck pieces in a single snug layer in a high-sided baking dish or ovenproof saucepan. Pour the melted fat over the duck (the duck pieces should be covered by fat) and place in the oven. Cook slowly at a very slow simmer – just an occasional bubble – until the duck is tender and can be easily pulled from the bone, 2 – 3 hours. Remove the confit from the oven. (If desired, cool and store the duck in the fat. The confit will keep in the refrigerator for several weeks.)
3. Serve with Pomme Frites, a simple salad and a glass of J. Lohr’s Fog’s Reach Pinot Noir!