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Secret Recipe: COCO5OO's Duck Leg Confit Salad

Photo by Eric Wolfinger. Ceramic serving dish from SHED.

7x7 asks the Bay Area's chefs for the recipes to their most loved cocktails, bar snacks, starters, mains, and desserts. If there's a dish you can't stop thinking about and want to make at home, email schuyler@7x7.com. Your wish may end up on the blog, along with the actual recipe from the chef.<--break-->

In the February issue of 7x7, we pulled off a boar hunt and feast of epic proportions in Healdsburg ("The Omnivore's Delight," p. 44). Our lovely guests contributed to a beautiful potluck, and they've generously shared the recipes for some of our favorite dishes. They're proportioned for a crowd, so get the gang together for a delicious winter fête, and enjoy!

Loretta Keller, of COCO5OO, generously multiplied her famous duck leg confit salad to feed the masses. It was an absolute dream to watch her searing duck legs on our stove in Healdsburg, but even better to taste the results hot out of the pan. She recommends making the duck confit yourself: "It can easily be made at home, and will fill your home with the wonderful fragrance of simmering duck and spices." Amen, sister.

Duck leg confit salad with pomegranate, kale, escarole, celery leaf

Serves 6

6 legs of duck confit (see recipe below; or purchase online at d’Artagnan; or The Fatted Calf, Embarcadero, Hayes Valley, Napa)

Duck fat (online at d’Artagnan; or The Fatted Calf, Embarcadero, Hayes Valley, Napa)

1 small rustic loaf of bread, (levain or Italian batard)

1 clove garlic

2 ounces olive oil for making croutons

2 small shallots, minced

4 cups duck or chicken stock reduced to 4 ounces

salt

pepper in a pepper mill

1 bunch lacinato kale, washed, dried and stripped from their stalks

2 medium heads escarole, blanched white with tender leaves

½ cup fresh celery leaves (the yellow inner ones)

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 pomegranate, seeded

1.    Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2.    Heat half an inch of duck fat in a large, heavy frying pan or skillet.
3.    Place the duck legs skin side down in the pan, being careful not to overcrowd them.
4.    When the skin is crisp and golden brown, remove the legs (do not turn them over in the pan; cook only on one side.)
5.    Transfer to a baking pan and bake for 5 minutes.
6.    Meanwhile, make the garlic croutons: Cube the bread into rustic 1-inch pieces and toss with olive oil.
7.    Place on a pan in the oven and bake for about 10 minutes, until the croutons become crunchy.
8.    Transfer to a bowl and sprinkle with a pinch of salt.
9.    Using a microplane, grate the garlic onto the hot bread, tossing frequently. If you don’t have a microplane, you can chop and mash the garlic.

10. To assemble the salad, first, bunch a handful of kale leaves together and cut them in 1/2-inch pieces.

11. Put the kale in a salad bowl and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Massage the salted kale for about a minute. This will tenderize it and bring out its flavor.

12. Clean the escarole, discarding any large and tough outer leaves.

13. Dry it and tear into bite size pieces, then add it to the kale.

14. Make the salad dressing by combining the stock, vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper, and shallots.

15. When the duck legs are crisp and warm, dress the salad, adding the celery leaves. Adjust seasoning if necessary.

16. Place the salad on a platter, arrange the duck legs on the salad. Finish by sprinkling pomegranate seeds over everything.

Duck confit

6 fresh duck legs

6 cups of duck fat (online at d’Artagnan; or The Fatted Calf, Embarcadero, Hayes Valley, Napa)

6 juniper berries

2 bay leaves

1 tablespoon dried thyme

1 cup kosher salt

1.    Sprinkle a generous pinch of salt (scant tablespoon) with bay leaves, juniper, and thyme over the surface of each raw duck leg.
2.    Refrigerate for 24 hours.
3.    Remove the duck legs from the refrigerator.
4.    Preheat the oven to 275 degrees.
5.    In an earthenware or heavy cast iron or enamel pot, heat the duck fat to a simmer.
6.    Slip the legs into the simmering duck fat and place the pot in the oven. It should take approximately 2 hours (maybe less) to cook the duck. Check it from time to time to see that it is just barely simmering. Turn the oven temperature up slightly, if necessary.
7.    The duck confit is done when you can easily bend the joint of the thigh and drumstick. When tender, remove the pot from the oven, letting the duck cool down in the fat. 
8.    Turn the oven up to 375 degrees.
9.    Carefully remove the duck legs from the fat, using a shallow slotted spoon, and place them in a single layer on a plate in the refrigerator. Don’t stack them.

10. Refrigerate for 4 to 5 hours, letting them firm up. This can be done up to 5 days in advance.