Friday, 29 June 2007

Birthday in a Tin

This year my favourite birthday present cost 12 euros and weighed 800 grams, about half of which was duck fat. Strictly speaking, my confit de canard wasn't even a gift, as I bought it myself and imported it to London as the main course for my just-off-the Eurostar birthday dinner. Within 20 minutes of my arrival, I was pouring tablespoons of fat into a heavy-bottomed frying pan, to which we added thick slices of red-skinned potatoes. We underestimated both the number of pans that would be required for the job--the potatoes need to be more or less in a single layer--and the time and attention it would take for them to acquire a mahogany-brown crust. In the meantime, however, Camparis were quaffed, bags unpacked--revealing a reliably fabulous bottle of Corbieres and some (as it turned out not so fabulous) cheese--and the meat was placed in the oven to warm and crisp.

The duck, succulent and rich, if not as lacquer-skinned as we’d hoped, was both celebratory and comforting, the perfect way to end a tumultuous year and to usher in a new one. The potatoes were simply too good to analyse, the accompanying glasses of wine as dense and spicy as the meal demanded. After all of this, salad was superfluous, though I was not fool enough to miss breaking the red wax seal on another import from France's southwest: a bottle of superbly nuanced VO Armagnac, the story of which bears telling here at a later date.

I’m not sure I have a recipe to give here (though these will give you more specific instructions), only a exhortation to banish your fear of solid fat for at least one night.

Here's to the French paradox and an easier year to come.


witness said...

Hello Shira:
I also think cooking with duck fat is a wonderful and forgotten way to go. Ever make your own confit? I also have a blog called, coincidentally, petitpois.

Happy Birthday!


Shira said...

Heather, thanks for your comment--and the link! I'm looking forward to reading your blog. I've never made my own confit--possibly something to do when I don't have ready-made so easily accessible.