I love ingredients that can be used in both savoury and sweet dishes. The idea of creating a three course meal around a theme flavour used in all of the courses is a challenge that excites me. Star Anise is one of those ingredients.
Star Anise is actually not related to Anise but contains anethole, which is the same thing in Anise that gives it it’s flavour. Star Anise is harvested from Illicium Verum, an evergreen tree that grows in Asia. As a result, Star Anise is most widely used in Asian cuisines as a flavour enhancer for meats, broths, teas, and rice dishes. It is also used in the production of liquors such as Absinthe, Sambuca, and Pastis.
The spicy liquorice flavour of Anise pairs amazingly with proteins such as duck and pork, it is great when infused into a dessert such as creme brûlée, and tastes fantastic in a meat broth for soup noodles.
Confit. Meat cooked slowly in it’s own fat until it melts under your fork. Yes please.
Today’s recipe is one of my ultimate comfort foods. The best part is that you can cook a lot of the confit, and if you store covered it in it’s own fat in the fridge it will last for months. Here we go.
Confit of Duck with Rustic Potatoes serves 4
4 duck legs
2-3 litres of duck fat (use pork fat if duck fat is too expensive)
6 cloves of garlic, smashed
10 sprigs of thyme
1 cup rock salt
4 large potatoes
mixed salad greens
Rub the duck legs with rock salt, garlic, and thyme. Let the duck sit with all of the previous for an hour and a half in the fridge. Melt the fat in a pot. Rinse off the duck legs and place them in the fat along with the garlic and herbs, making sure they are completely covered. Place in a 250°F oven and cook for about 4 hours or until the skin on the drumstick near the joint shrinks back towards the thigh. Alternatively you can cook on the stovetop at a medium-low temperature, making sure the oil never boils. Once the legs are cooked you can store them in the fat (fully submerged) and they will keep in the fridge for months.
In a saute pan, heat up some of the fat to quite hot and add the potatoes, cut into rough chunks. Continue to cook on high heat to get some good colour and crispness on the potatoes. Put into a 400°F oven to finish cooking, tossing a few times through the cooking process. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Heat up a bit of the fat in a pan and place the duck leg in, skin side down. Keep the skin pressed to the pan and cook until the skin is crisp. Serve with the potatoes and a bit of mixed greens tossed with olive oil and a bit of lemon juice.