Ok, I know Compote is a dessert thing but not this time! I made a lovely savoury sauce using blueberries and gin to pair perfectly with duck confit. It was delicious.
Confit. I've made it before, and I'll make it again. It is a personal favourite. One of the reasons I like it so much is because it's one of the most versatile dishes ever. It's good on its own, with pasta, covered in a sauce, or just about on anything. I mean, it's hard not to like it. Fat is flavour, and this dish certainly has a lot of that!
Confit means, according to my computer's dictionary, "duck or other meat cooked slowly in its own fat." To make this dish, you cure the duck legs(although I skip this step in my recipe because I didn't intend to preserve it) and then bake it submerged in duck fat at a low temperature for a long period of time. The results are simply incredible. The meat falls off the bone and is super tender. Mouth. Watering. Goodness. It's just one of the best things in life. Can we all give the French a collective big high five?
The other thing I love about Duck Confit is its history. Yes, I know, I'm a nerd. But food history is significant. I mean, we wouldn't have civilization without the discovery of bread, right? Wheat has sustained and continues to sustain our populations. Maybe we should be blaming wheat for our current world issues. #wheatisresponsiblefortrump In all seriousness, without bread we'd all still be hunter-gatherers. Or at least that's what I think. I digress.
Anyway, food history, it's important, and I love it. Duck confit slowly developed before refrigeration. In fact most of our beloved dishes today, were i.e. bacon. People had to find a way to keep food for longer periods of time than a day, especially in preparation for winter. One of the reasons why Confit works as a preservation method without refrigeration is because once the duck fat cools and solidifies it keeps the meat from contact with oxygen. Oxygen is needed by some foodborne illnesses to spread. Submerging food in fat doesn't mean that it'll keep forever, but it certainly helps! What I love is the ingenuity of people. They just knew that food went bad and needed to find ways to keep it from doing so. Brilliant! Full disclaimer, we have refrigerators so use them! Don't be stupid and leave meat out on the counter. You are not living in medieval France, amirite?
Finally, wild duck, like all other game meats, tends to have a (un)pleasant flavour (gamey). Recipes originally developed to try and cover it, but today it isn't as needed as it used to be because the majority of duck you get is farmed. The animal's food source is controlled making the meat have a milder flavour which means it's extremely versatile. For this sauce, I took the idea of combining blueberry and gin together from my Gravlax recipe. It was simply elegant.
Blueberry and Gin Compote with Duck Confit
2 Legs of Duck Confit
1/4 Onion, Finely Chopped
1 Juniper Berry, Crushed
1 Ounce of Gin
1/4 tsp Freshly Cracked Black Pepper
3/4 Cup Frozen Blueberries
1/4 Cup Red Wine
Salt to taste
Heat a medium saute pan over medium heat. Once the pan is hot add in a tablespoon of duck fat and place duck legs skin side down. Don’t move them until the skin is crisp and golden brown this should only take a couple of minutes. Flip legs onto the other side and cook until golden brown. Remove legs from pan. In the same pan add in onions and juniper berry and cook until translucent, making sure to avoid adding colour. Deglaze with red wine and gin. Add in blueberries and black pepper. Turn the heat down to low and allow to simmer. Add the duck back into the pan with the skin side facing up. If the sauce gets too thick add in a splash of water and stir. The sauce should coat the back of the spoon. The dish is done once the sauce is thickened and the meat is heated through. Serve with mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli.