Two favourite things, no three. Lazy Sunday mornings with a big pot of coffee, the Sunday paper and an indulgent breakfast, trips to Paris and the duck confit that I bring home. Every time I go to Paris, I visit G Detou and buy several things, two of which are a tin of duck confit from Les Landes and a tin of pork sausages, confit in goose fat.
Lets start with the duck confit. An essential cupboard staple, I save mine for evenings where I am tired and in need of comfort. I open the tin, prise out a leg, and crisp it in the oven until the duck, tender under its canopy of bronze crisp skin is ready to be devoured. The skin too of course, it is the very best bit. Perfect with buttered greens and crisp potatoes, on Friday I had it with an intensely gratifying mash, where potatoes tenderly mixed with slow cooked leeks and some truffle mustard (from Maille, available on tap at the Maille shop in London, and it is very, very good). That leaves one leg for Sunday morning breakfast / brunch, and lots of fat to cook it all in. I cook the second leg at the same time as the first and keep it, patiently, trying not to feast on the skin, because the skin is an important part of my Duck Confit Hash.
Hash. Food of the gods, the greedy ones. The ones that indulge, that swill wine, that do raucous cheers at every opportunity with wine rushing from their glasses, and so have clothes covered in red wine stains, and wake up sleepy every morning. I am not often hungry when I first wake up, but this morning I was ravenous (jet lag is a curious thing that not only tears destructively through your sleep pattern, but your appetite too), and so I started to plot.
I have a firm fond memory of eating leftover fried potatoes for breakfast in childhood, and wondering why do they taste so much better than they did last night? They always do. Crisped and browned in fat, maybe butter, with a luscious egg yolk to dip them in, I don’t think breakfasts get much better. This morning I crisped them in duck fat, and what doesn’t love duck fat more than a potato?
One red onion, sliced thin, is added to a shallow frying pan with a couple of tablespoons of duck fat, reserved from the confit tin. Cooked gently over a slow heat while I sip on some coffee, the onion yields its sugars after about half an hour or 40 minutes, and caramelises and becomes supple. All the while, diced potatoes, skin on, have been bubbling gently in a pot. When tender, they are drained and added to the onions, and join in the languid dance. I turn the heat up, but keep an eye on it.
Crisping oh so slowly and gently, turned occasionally, the room right now is smelling pretty fine, but it is about to get better. It is time for the duck. Patiently parted from the bone, and gently pulled into rough large shreds, the duck confit goes into the pot. The skin is already crisp, but it will crisp some more, and the rich pink flesh will twist and turn and stay soft and mellow. If your skin is not crisp enough, you might consider crisping it separately in another pan before adding to the hash.
Almost there. Clear some space for an egg, and crack it in. Let it cook so the white is set, just so, and the yolk runny and fit to escape its skin and run all over the hash with the first piercing. Shred some flat leaf parsley with your hands and sprinkle over the potato, duck and onion (which is salted to taste with sea salt). Plate it, put the egg on top, and indulge.
Sunday mornings, I salute you. I hope you enjoyed yours. What did you have?
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