episode 49 :: the mighty duck

I had my first taste of duck when I was 14.  A friends father had returned from a successful hunting trip just a week before and they were hosting a big duck feast with family and friends.  I think it was baked – I can’t remember.  I only recall that it was perhaps the juiciest piece of dark poultry flesh I’d ever eaten, and every single one of my mother’s theories about why we never ate it (it was too greasy, it was too gamy, etc.) were whisked away with that first bite.

In this episode, I’ll show you just how easy it is to make one of the most popular of all classic French Bistro entreés — duck confit. Courtesy of Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook, I’ll explain that with a simple handful of ingredients, a few duck legs, some patience, and basic cooking technique, you can prepare duck in the most tender way possible.  Because – and let’s face it – anytime you’re cooking and storing something buried in its own fat, there’s no way things can possibly go wrong.

Listen to episode 49 now

In this episode:
• Why was Tiger Woods forced to air out his dirty laundry to everyone?
• Dogfish Head Chicory Stout
• Dan Patrick proves why America’s general perception of beer (and food) is all wrong
• Rick Sellers’ well documented piece on the Northern California Duck Off
• Preparing Duck Confit
• Paula Deen gets hit in the face with a big salty hunk of karma
• Chef Ludo is back, and better than ever – all month long at Royal/T
• Top Chef Season 6 Pre-Finale Recap

Music in this episode from Saliva.  Buy the song in the iTunes Store.

Purchase Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook from Amazon.com – it’s the perfect holiday gift for your chef spouse.  Or hell, just get it for yourself.  You know you can’t live without it.

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  1. More duck! I LOVE duck confit but have never made it at home. Was thinking just the other day I’d like to try it so this episode is perfectly timed. I ordered the Bourdain book, will look through my other books and hopefully do it. Loved the Paula Deen debacle, heard about it when it happened, love that you put it on here. Another great post, Phil!

  2. Charles, THANK YOU for taking the time to listen so quickly. Fastest response to an episode ever! I appreciate it so much.

    I will email you the recipe from Tony’s book. It’s really simple, and I know you cook French so it should be in at least one of your cookbooks. Keller’s Duck Confit recipe in Ad Hoc at Home is incredibly detailed in regards to directions. I have not had his, but I’m eager to try it now to see how different his is. I’m always looking for the most tender flesh when it comes to this, and Tony’s recipe ends up coming out pretty damned tender.

    Thanks again for your support.

  3. Good way to kick start my Monday; great show Phil! Tiger, Tiger, Tiger… didn’t you learn from your friend Kobe? In all fairness, leave the guy alone and let him do what he does best, play incredible golf. Hmmm, beer that is not yellow and fizzy. As much as I like the beer here in Brazil for what it is (good, very good German style lager with a Brazilian twist), every once in a while I like a beer with a little change in flavor. While Dogfish Head is not by top choice in breweries, Sam does a good job bending the flavors. I’ll look for this on my next trip north. Paula ham in the grill, I need to look this one up. Couldn’t laugh enough listening to the crowd sounding all concerned. Just think of all makeup and grease all over that poor ham. Who was the lucky recipient of that one?? Great recap on the TC6. I get the download every Thursday morning (when aired the Wednesday before) and watch it with coffee and fresh bread. It has been a real good season, except for the Robin chick. I think the writers wanted her to stay as long as she did for the house drama she created. Her food sucked from the beginning. The last 3 were not too much of a surprise. They were the most consistent of the group but this was by far the best collection of chefs ever for this show. Looking forward to Thursday morning.

    Keep up the great shows Clarke! It’s always a treat to get that notification on my email a new ep is in the cue. Tenho muita saudade de sua cozinha!

  4. The best think Tiger can do right now is STFU about everything. I blame the media – ESPN in particular. They’ve blown this thing way out of control.

    I too found the Paula Dean audio funny as hell. I saw the video but I think you set it up perfectly. Smithfield Hams you can hardly even find. Are they only available on the east coast?

  5. Good show, phil. I really enjoyed the last one too. I didn’t get a chance to listen to it until now, and it was during thanksgiving. She sounds really passionate about her food, and it was great to hear you in the kitchen with her.

    Thanks for the Top Chef recap. I missed it last week and plan on watching the replay before the final airs on wednesday. Jennifer was great and it’s a shame she won’t be in the final but everyone knows it’s going to be Kevin taking the whole thing anyways.

    The Paula Deen video is hilarious. How hard did that person throw that ham. It yoinked off her face like a basketball. I know it’s sad to see someone get hurt, but with her I felt it was kind of funny. I didn’t know alot about that stuff about Smithfield before you talked about it. Sounds like a horrible place to work, but you have to consider the type of people who get those jobs anyway.

  6. Hey Phil, along with the duck confit what else do you put in your cassoulet? Particularly what kind of sausage do you put in it. And furthermore, what kind of beans do you use?

  7. Hey Don, thanks for your comments dude! Means a lot to me that you stop off here and comment. It’s great to know you’re listening too! Miss seeing you, man. Hope to see you soon.

    Ronnie, I agree about the Tiger situation, but he’s NOT TALKING to anyone. He came out once and apologized. It’s everyone else who’s talking now. They’re the ones who need to shut their mouths. We don’t need to know these things about him – we really don’t. I feel bad for his wife and their family. As a person, yeah I’ve lost some respect for him, but he’s still the greatest golfer alive, and I hope he gets back on the course in January and gets back to business.

    DV – I’m glad the Top Chef recap wasn’t too much of a spoiler for you. They’re showing the replays tonight, so you can catch it before the finale on BRAVO. I did feel bad about the Paula Deen incident, because I never want to see anyone get physically hurt. But it did seem a bit like karma got the best of her, given whose ham that was.

    Leitch – I posted about Cassoulet back in January. You can read the post here – http://mylifeasafoodie.com/2009/01/01/cassoulet/ Good luck, and I hope you enjoy it. It’s the best bean stew you will ever have. I love it, and I’m going to have to make it again soon THANKS TO YOU! 😀

  8. Only Sam would say “nature’s anti-depressant, depressant” and that is why I love listening to him speak.

    The most annoying thing I hear from bud/coors/miller people is “its darker so it must be stronger” and then when I try to explain why thats not true I get “well why cant you just drink beer beer”.

  9. Thanks for this episode Phil! I made duck confit for the first time after hearing your show with a new jar of goose fat which is pretty expensive. I could not find duck fat and I didn’t have time to make it myself like you explained.

    Do you know how many times I can re-use the fat to make confit again? I’m guessing that as the confit cooks at such a low temperature, the fat won’t spoil much.


  10. Hi Michelle. I’m really happy that you made duck confit!! I hope it turned out for you. I have never used goose fat for confit, and I’ve never re-used the fat either. I think you can re-use the fat again, but no more than once or twice. It may get saltier as you go, so keep that in mind. Also, if you do re-use the fat, make sure you strain it with cheesecloth, so you’re only using fat and not pieces of duck or herbs, etc. Good luck, and thanks for commenting.

    Spoon, I know what you mean, and it’s true. I once gave some saison to a person at a dinner party we were throwing. I asked him if he liked it. He said he did, but it wasn’t really beer. Oh well. I’m not going to argue, as long as you liked it.

  11. Hey Phil,

    You referenced something in this podcast that reminded me of a thought I had a couple weeks ago, maybe even fodder for a food story: Speaking of teaching your fourth grader (or was it four-year-old?) to appreciate good beer–why not? Europeans bring their kids up with wine at the table, as it’s simply a part of their culture. It’s the same thing with microbrewers–beer is so much their lifeblood, part of the core of who they are and what they stand for, that I would think it to be counterintuitive for them not to share good beer with their kids. I wonder if any brewers would fess up?

    And thanks for the shout-outs on this program! I gotta update my blog with some of my print stuff and some Beer for Chaps episodes so people don’t wonder what the hell you’re talking about when you reference me!

    Loved the Paula Deen dreamscape interlude. Hilarious.

    • Jennifer — you may very well have a point. Although, I don’t want to be the one to suggest it. I do think that if you grow up eating one way, and thinking about food one way, it will translate to what decisions you make later in life about anything you put into your body. Where does it start? Probably not by giving your kids beer when they’re 8 years old, but making sure that if your kids see you drink, that you always make sure you’re drinking quality beer around them. That way, when they ARE old enough to drink, they’re more apt to “be like dad (or mom)” and pick up something other than skunk piss.

      You should definitely have everything on your blog. I love reading your stuff, and I think everyone should be exposed to it. 🙂

      Thanks for your comments, and for listening.

  12. Enjoyed it as always Phil! Thanks for the re-cap of Top Chef. The show has been so enjoyable this season. I am happy my final four from the beginning actually made it to the final four.

    All the talk about duck confit reminded me of the Tony Bourdain “No Reservations” episode where he was at a hot dog place in Chicago (I think) where they cooked all of their french fries in duck fat. I have to try that! I will also attempt the duck confit at some point. Thanks for the tips!

    I agree with what you said about the dark beer/light beer controversy. I’ve had many beers that are lighter in color that have kicked my tail and some stouts that have been thin and weak bodied. Like you, I tend to gravitate toward the heavier, malty, higher ABV beers. Thanks, too, for calling out Dan Patrick and Blue Moon. There is so much misinformation out there concerning craft beer it can be maddening at times.

    One last thing…not to bust your chops, but Rick Bayless won Top Chef Masters, not Michael Chiarello 🙂

    Awesome show! Can’t wait for milestone show #50!

    • Oh man! I totally dropped the ball on that one. Thanks for calling me out, Steve! I don’t know what I was thinking. I absolutely knew Bayless beat him, I just wasn’t thinking clearly. Either that, or the beer was taking affect. 😉

      That episode of NR (in Chicago) where Tony visited that hot dog shop — best ever. The fries cooked in duck fat, the fois gras hot dog – it’s all “in your face” with flavor. I love people who think like that.

      What kills me are some of the conversations I get into about French cooking with people. “Oh, all of that butter and cream — that’s too heavy. Totally unhealthy!” Meanwhile, these are the same people who are eating out at chain restaurants 2-3 times a week. Who’s being unhealthy here? I wonder if they’re just afraid to try new things. I can’t enforce good taste. You either have it, or you don’t.

      Thanks for your comments, Steve. And thanks for the Top Chef Masters correction.

  13. Another awesome show Phil! Thanks for the recap of Top chef, it was a great season and loved the ending!

    I’ve never made duck confit at home, but you make it so easy for us to do so, with Christmas around the corner I will be trying it very soon.

    Thanks again Phil!

    • Thanks Afaf. Compared to the amount of labor, skill, and precision you practice in every one of your dishes, this will be a walk in the park for you. Enjoy it. It’s one of my favorite duck preparations.

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