We love finding duck articles and recipes online – here’s one just recently posted to Serious Eats!
Get the Recipes
One of the trickier parts of developing and writing recipes is determining how detailed the instructions in recipe steps need to be. We want to make sure that people can successfully pull off these recipes and techniques at home, so hours upon hours are spent agonizing over the best way to describe things, like the motion of popping the ball joint out of the socket on a duck when breaking down whole birds. (After a long discussion with Sho and a Zapruder film–level analysis of my duck butchery video, I settled on comparing the movement to that of turning a sock inside out.)
While it’s vital to provide accurate, descriptive visual cues for recipe steps—as Stella often reminds everyone, visual cues are more important indicators than time ranges, given the great deal of variance in things like the output of a stovetop burner, which can’t be completely accounted for when writing a recipe—it’s also important to be concise. Overloading recipes with text can make them confusing and difficult to follow.
Over the past few months, I’ve become interested in a particular wrinkle of this recipe-instruction conundrum—recipes that provide detailed step-by-step instructions for cooking the item in question but end with a yada yada regarding what to do with the finished product, particularly when the recipe in question doesn’t produce a stand-alone meal. People generally don’t need guidance on how to eat a doughnut, but if they’re making homemade XO sauce for the first time, I feel like it’s important to provide readers with additional recipes and inspiration for putting a recipe to use that goes beyond “serve over rice.”
The yada yada problem is one that crops up frequently with duck confit recipes. The tripping-up point with confit is that even after curing and gently cooking duck legs in fat for hours, they still need to be spruced up a bit before being served. Sure, you could fish a duck leg out of the cold fat it’s been stored in and start chowing down, chewing through the soft skin to get to the tender meat beneath it, but that would be a waste, since it’s far more delicious to eat after it’s skin has been crisped and it’s served warm.
The downside to reheating and crisping is that it involves more cooking steps, going beyond those required to make the confit itself. Most recipes skirt this issue by ending with Cliff’s Notes for warming the confit, but usually stop short of providing detailed instructions for turning the confit into a composed dish.
For readers who decided to take on my Big Duck Project, I didn’t want to leave anyone hanging—that’s for the duck crowns—so, along with the recipes for both traditional and koji confit, I developed simple weeknight dinner recipes that put them both to good use.
As you may recall, the natural sugars from the shio koji will cause the duck skin in the koji confit to brown much more quickly. This isn’t a cause for concern, but just keep an eye on things while crisping the skin to make sure it doesn’t burn.