By Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley
Confit is a French cooking technique that employs slow cooking meat in fat, preferably the animal’s own fat. Ample in fat, duck is the most classic choice for confit, but this method works great with just about any meat that is tough and full of collagen, such as the legs of wild birds. Obviously, not all wild game has fat that is useable and/or abundant, so the best alternative is jarred duck fat, which you can buy online or at specialty stores.
The duck fat keeps lean wild game moist, and it’s delicious, nutty flavor infuses into the meat. All the while, low and slow heat allows time for the collagen in tougher cuts of muscle to soften. Before serving, I browned the legs in a pan for more flavor. Prepared this way, the snow goose legs became so tender and rich.
Traditional confit recipes are typically prepared in the oven by submerging meat in fat inside a baking dish. However, duck fat is expensive if you must buy it, and it would take a lot of fat to cover the bottom of a dish. The most economical way to confit meat is to do it in a bag, which requires minimal fat. Cooked in water, most slow cookers on low reach about 190 degrees. Confit should be cooked at temperatures lower than 200 degrees.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 11 hours
- 8 snow goose legs and thighs, skinless
- Kosher salt, to taste
- 6 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 7 to 8 ounces of duck fat
- Freshly cracked pepper
- Vacuum sealer and bag OR heavy-duty zip-top bag
- Pat goose legs/thighs dry with paper towels and season well with salt. Place in a vacuum-sealable bag or zip-top bag and add duck fat and thyme. Remove as much air out of the bag as possible and seal. Note: If using a vacuum sealer, be careful not to let the vacuum suck out the fat. Keep a close eye and press the seal button as soon as the air has been removed.
- Place the bag in a slow cooker and cover with water. Cover with the lid, turn the slow cooker on low and cook for 10 hours or until the meat becomes tender. Cooking times will vary depending on the size and age of birds. If necessary, use a heavy bowl/plate to keep the bag submerged. If the bag floats, flip halfway through or every few hours for more even cooking. Note: If using a zip-top bag, I try to keep the re-sealable top sticking out of the water for assurance. One advantage of using a zip-top bag is that it’s easier to check for doneness. But zip-top bags tend to float quite a bit.
- Remove legs from the bag. Drop a tablespoon or two of duck fat into a pan and heat over medium-high. Sear legs on both sides for a good brown crust. Sprinkle with freshly cracked pepper. Serve with your favorite sides, preferably something with a bit of tartness to complement the richness of the goose confit, such as a vinegary salad, slaw or kimchi.