The process of duck confit is often thought to be difficult, but it is simply a case of proper technique and preparation. In this Mexican recipe, the confit is served with grilled duck breast and a rich duck broth, garnished with grilled vegetables and blue corn dumplings. Blue corn is a completely natural but lesser known variety of corn that has a distinct sweet and earthy flavour, used here to great effect.






Skill level

Average: 2.5 (5 votes)


Duck confit

  • 400 g rock salt
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • ½ bunch thyme
  • 1 tbsp cracked black pepper
  • 2 duck legs
  • 1 litre (4 cups) duck fat

Duck broth
stage 1

  • 2 duck carcasses
  • 1 white onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 leek, roughly chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, roughly chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 8 black peppercorns
  • ½ bunch thyme
  • 1 tsp Mexican oregano
  • 2 ancho chillies, stems and seeds removed
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 4 litres water

stage 2

  • 500 g chicken wings
  • 1 white onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 leek, roughly chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, roughly chopped
  • 250 ml (1 cup) white wine

stage 3

  • 150 g chicken mince
  • 4 egg whites
  • salt, to taste

Blue corn dumplings

  • 1 cup blue masa harina (see Note)
  • ¼ cup duck fat, cold
  • 80 ml (⅓ cup) duck broth, chilled
  • 1 litre water
  • 1 tsp salt

Cascabel chilli salsa

  • 3 cascabel chillies, seeds removed
  • 1 garlic clove
  • salt, to taste
  • 2 tomatoes, boiled until soft

To serve

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 8 sweet French shallots
  • 2 duck breast fillets
  • salt, to taste
  • 1 choko, boiled until tender and sliced
  • 1 zucchini, sliced 5 mm thick and grilled
  • ½ cup cooked, peeled broad beans


Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Marinating time 24 hours

You will need to begin this recipe 1 day ahead.

To prepare the confit, mix the salt, garlic, thyme and pepper together in a non-reactive bowl. Place a thin layer of the mixture in the base of a small container and then add the duck legs. Add the remaining salt cure mixture and coat the duck well. Cover and place in the fridge for 24 hours.

Meanwhile, prepare the duck broth. Preheat oven to 200˚C and place the duck carcasses, onion, leek and celery in a flameproof roasting pan. Roast for 1 hour, turning the carcass after 30 minutes for even roasting. Remove from roasting tray and place in a 5-litre saucepan. Add the garlic, peppercorns, thyme, bay, ancho and paprika. Add the water and heat over medium. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook for 2 hours.

Meanwhile, to continue to stage 2, in the same roasting pan, place chicken wings and vegetables. Roast for 45 minutes or until well browned. When ready, remove the wings and vegetables from the pan and place in another 5-litre saucepan. Place the pan over medium heat. Add the white wine and deglaze the pan, cooking for 30 seconds and stirring throughout. Add the glaze to the saucepan.

After 2 hours, remove the duck stock from the heat and strain. Discard the bones and vegetables, and add the stock to the chicken wings. Bring to the boil and cook for a further 2 hours on a gentle boil. When ready, strain the stock and reserve. Refrigerate overnight.

The next day, preheat oven to 130˚C and remove the duck legs from the fridge. Brush the salt from the duck, then rinse the legs with fresh water to remove any excess salt. Pat them dry and place in a 4 cm-deep, 20 cm x 20 cm baking dish. Melt the duck fat in a small saucepan over low heat, then pour over the duck legs to cover. Place in oven and cook for 2–3 hours, until the duck is very tender. Remove from the oven and cool in the fat.

While the confit cooks, finish the duck broth. Place the cooled stock in a saucepan, then mix the mince and egg whites in a small non-reactive bowl. Add the mince mixture to the stock, then place the pan over low heat and gently bring to the boil, stirring very gently occasionally to ensure it does not stick when coming up to the boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 20 mins or until the stock is clarified. Season and reserve.

To prepare the dumplings, combine the masa harina, cold duck fat and cold broth. Season to taste. Form mixture into a neat 1 cm thick cylinder by gently rolling a log of the mix back and forth on a bench under flattened hands. If the mixture sticks to the bench, dust a little dry masa over the surface and resume. Cut the dough at 1.5 cm intervals and reserve.

Place the water and salt in a 20 cm saucepan. Bring to the boil. Lower to a gentle boil and drop the dumplings into the water. Cook for about 4 minutes or until firm. Remove and reserve.

To make the salsa, heat a 20 cm frying pan over medium-low heat and add the cascabel chillies without oil. Cook for 3 minutes, turning frequently, until fragrant and brittle. Place in a mortar and pestle and add the garlic and salt, then crush the ingredients to a paste. Add the boiled tomatoes and continue to combine. Adjust the seasoning and reserve.

To serve, place a 20 cm heavy-based frying pan over medium-low heat and add the olive oil and shallots. Season lightly and cook gently for 10 minutes or until soft through. Turn as they cook to ensure even colouring. Reserve.
Heat a flat-grill to a medium heat, season the duck breasts with salt and place skin side down on the grill. Cook, without turning, for 7 minutes. Meanwhile, remove the confit legs from the fat and remove as much fat as possible. Cut the leg at the knee joint, separating the thigh from the drumstick. Place on the grill to colour. Also add the choko, zucchini and shallots to warm.

Meanwhile, bring 1 litre clarified broth to a simmer and add the broad beans and dumplings. Turn the duck breast and legs over and cook for a further 3 minutes or to desired doneness. Let the breast rest for 3 minutes, then slice 5 mm thick against the grain.

Place a piece of each leg in each of four bowls. Arrange half of each duck breast on top of the leg and then the warmed vegetables around. Ladle the broth into each bowl, and add the broad beans and dumplings. Serve accompanied by the cascabel salsa.


• Blue corn masa harina is available from speciality food stores and Mexican grocers.