February 3, 2023 6:46 AM   Subscribe

I fully acknowledge this is a first-world problem: I wanted to make something this weekend using a plain duck leg, but I can only get confit duck legs. Can I use that instead, or would a duck breast be better? Or something else?

I found an amazing sounding recipe in a new cookbook for a cassoulet-inspired thing that hit my sweet spot of a) not that time-consuming, and b) made small quantities; and best of all, I had 90% of the ingredients on hand (and they were ingredients I've been trying to use up). You sear a whole duck leg, then render the fat from a handful of chopped pancetta and use all that fat to cook the aromatics; then in goes some lentils and broth, a little pomegranate molasses and I think some vinegar, and then the leg goes back in the pot and the whole thing goes in the oven for an hour. I have everything but the pancetta and the duck leg, and I'm trying to get through a backlog of beans anyway and this sounded ideal.

I know my local supermarket has pre-chopped pancetta, so that's sorted, and even if they're out I'm comfortable substituting regular bacon (I know they're different, but I've done it before and I'm comfortable doing that). But I thought I'd seen regular duck legs there, but have discovered they only seem to have duck breasts, and confit duck legs; I've not cooked duck often enough to know how to adapt, or even if such an adaptation would be possible or advisable. So can I use the confit duck leg, and if so, is there a way I should adapt the recipe? Or would a duck breast be better? (I also know I could just not make this, but....dammit, doesn't that sound good?)
posted by EmpressCallipygos to Food & Drink (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I suspect the confit duck leg will significantly change the dish - I'd go with a (ideally bone-in) breast. You wouldn't need to worry about it being dry or anything, because a) duck b) pancetta.
posted by restless_nomad at 6:52 AM on February 3

Cassoulet frequently includes confit duck, so it would absolutely be appropriate here. The meat will shred rather than stay in one piece or chunks. I would modify your method by browning the skin of the leg in a pan (the confit will be so fatty you don't need to add any extra), then pull the meat off the bone. Save the duck fat for another use. Put the shredded duck into the stew with maybe a half hour left on the cook time, it won't need a full hour but you want some time to help the flavors meld.
posted by backseatpilot at 6:56 AM on February 3 [9 favorites]

I agree with backseatpilot in everything. Though I would probably keep (some of) the duck fat and leave out the pancetta. Looks delicious!
posted by mumimor at 7:17 AM on February 3

Best answer: You're doing it this weekend? Go to the Union Square greenmarket on Saturday morning, hit up Hudson Valley. They should have regular duck legs.

Otherwise, backseatpilot's method seems likely to work. The texture will be different but it should still be yummy.
posted by praemunire at 7:18 AM on February 3 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Go to the Union Square greenmarket on Saturday morning, hit up Hudson Valley. They should have regular duck legs.

I'm in Brooklyn and it's going to be cold as hell, but you've reminded me that there may be someone at the Fort Greene greenmarket which would be way closer. Yay!
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:27 AM on February 3 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Yay confirming that Hudson Valley is also at the Fort Greene Market and the site confirms they are expected this week!!!
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:29 AM on February 3 [3 favorites]

Hudson Valley is at Fort Greene too.

[edit: Yeah looks you got that already]
posted by theory at 7:32 AM on February 3

I've gotten those duck legs, They are super tasty and actually way less expensive than you would expect.
posted by sandmanwv at 8:33 AM on February 3

Response by poster: Marking resolved because this was quickly sorted! I'll try to get something at the Fort Greene Market, and if they're sold out for some reason I'll fall back on a breast and try the "genuine article" later. (I mean, at the end of the day it's braised duck meat in lentils, it's probably going to be good no matter what I do.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:59 AM on February 3

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