I was inspired to recreate this dish by the Chef Daniel Galmiche and have adapted the original recipe from his book. This is a delight and I would encourage you to give it a try.
For a change you can substitute the thyme sprigs for one strip of lemon and one of orange peel. It changes the finished dish pleasantly.
This will serve four portions, a great dinner party dish.
For the confit;
4 duck legs, preferably from corn-fed, free range Barbary ducks, each about 175g/6oz, including fat
40g of good quality sea salt (I use Maldon)
freshly ground black pepper
4 garlic cloves, unpeeled and crushed with the flat edge of a knife
4 thyme sprigs, leaves only
1kg (about 2lb) of goose or duck fat, melted
2 tablespoons of honey
For the lentils;
200g of Puy lentils, rinsed
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 small carrot, peeled and finely diced
1 bouquet garni made with 2 thyme sprigs and 2 parsley sprigs, 2 bay leafs tied together with kitchen string
1 garlic clove, unpeeled
4 tablespoons of vinaigrette (made with 3:1 tablespoons oil to white wine vinegar and a dessert spoon of Dijon mustard)
1 handful chervil, leaves only, finely chopped
To make the duck confit, put the duck legs in a small shallow tray, skin-side down, and season with the salt (about 2 teaspoons on each leg), pepper (a generous grinding on each leg), crushed garlic and thyme leaves (leaves of one sprig per leg).
Cover with cling film, press down and weighted with a few tins or kitchen weights in a smaller tin or plate on top of the cling filmed legs and leave to marinate overnight in the fridge.
Preheat the oven to 140C (120 fan)
Take the duck out of the tray, discarding the marinade. Rinse under cold running water and pat dry with kitchen paper.
Put the duck in a large heavy-based casserole or cast iron pan and pour the melted goose fat on top. Cover with a lid or greaseproof paper sealed with foil, place in the oven and bake for 4 hours, or you can gently simmer the duck on the stove, covered with a lid, for 34 hours. The oven method works best and I have tried both!
Remove from the oven, or take off the heat if you’re cooking on the stove, skim off any fat then cover with foil and set aside.
Meanwhile, cook the lentils. Place them in a small saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and skim the white foam from the surface. Add the shallot, carrot, bouquet garni and garlic, reduce the heat and simmer for a further 15 minutes or until al dente.
Strain the lentils, reserving two tablespoons of the cooking liquid. Discard the bouquet garni and garlic. Add the vinaigrette, the reserved cooking liquid and the chervil. Season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Brush the duck legs with the honey and fry them in a large frying pan skin-side down, in a over a medium heat for five minutes or until crisp and golden-brown. The honey will caramelise very quickly, so be careful not to let it burn. Turn the legs over very carefully (use a fish slice as the meat is very tender and you do not want it to fall apart!) and fry for two minutes more.
To serve, spoon the lentils onto serving plates and top with the duck legs.