You may think that a piece of duck cooked slowly in its own fat is heart attack material, but think about it. It has lost all its fat during cooking and the final crisping up process sheds any fat that is left, so you end up with a pretty fatless piece of meat, in theory anyway. Pomegranates must be the most talked-about super foods of the year, and over the festive season they were scattered around our house in bowls as a kind of edible Christmas f decorations. I order 20 or 30 before Christmas and squeeze them in the mornings for delicious juice. Pomegranate is a great match with duck in a salad like this, adding a fruity crunch.
If you're not up for making your own duck confit, you can buy it in good delis, canned or vacuum packed. My favourites are the confit duck legs from Loue from Donald Russell (www.donaldrussell.com). Although you are using extra goose or duck fat for cooking the legs, you're going to end up with a lot more than you started with and it keeps for ages in the fridge. There's always debate about whether goose fat is healthy or not, and Nigella brought the subject into focus again over the Christmas season when she exhorted the nation to roast potatoes in goose fat; I think more or less everything is OK as long as you don't do it all the time.
For the duck confit
4 duck legs weighing about 200-250g
200-250g goose or duck fat
A small piece of cinnamon stick
6 juniper berries, chopped
1/2 tbsp coriander seeds
1/2 tbsp white peppercorns
1 bay leaf
A few sprigs of thyme
6 cloves of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
Salt and pepper
4 x 1cm thick slices from a large potato
For the salad
Half a small head of curly endive or about 100-120g
2 medium sized beetroots, cooked and peeled
The seeds from half a pomegranate
For the dressing
1tbsp good quality tarragon vinegar
2tsp Dijon mustard
1 clove of garlic, peeled
2tbsp olive oil
3tbsp vegetable or corn oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
First, make the vinaigrette. Put all the ingredients into a clean bottle or jar. Give them a good shake and leave to infuse overnight at room temperature.
Pre-heat the oven to 160C/gas mark 3. Arrange the duck legs snugly in a thick-bottomed pan or oven-proof casserole with a lid. Cut a piece of muslin about 25cm square, put all the herbs and spices into it, tie it with the string to make a bag and put it in with the duck legs. Melt the duck or goose fat and pour over to cover the legs. Season with salt. Slowly bring the fat to the boil. Transfer to the oven and simmer the legs gently in the casserole with the lid on for about one and a half hours.
Test the legs by removing one: the meat should be very soft and tender and the leg still intact. Cool the legs a little and carefully transfer them to a roasting tray with a slice of potato under each leg to prevent the bottom burning. Turn the oven up to 200C/gas mark 6. Cook the legs for 30 minutes or until crisp.
Meanwhile cut the beetroot into about 8 wedges or pieces, toss the curly endive with the vinaigrette and season and arrange in bowls or plates. Place the pieces of beetroot in among the curly endive and scatter the pomegranate seeds on top and place the duck leg in the centre.Reuse content