For my birthday, my dad gave me an Amazon gift card. If you’re not clear on just how much I love Amazon.com, let me tell you that I buy everything on amazon. Seriously. I buy makeup remover, cat litter, spatulas, phone cases, and chocolate. Anything that I can think of to get on Amazon, I buy there. It saves me a trip to the store, and helps prevent me from buying extraneous items (I can’t get out of the drugstore with less than 2 random nail polishes).
My dad knew how picky I am, and what a compulsive researcher that I am, and figured that I would likely know best what I wanted, and I did! I was going to get a new knife, but upon further research, I found that I could get crazier options and more variety from somewhere else. But I did recently find frozen ducks at our local Costco, and upon setting about determining the ideal way to cook it, knew that I wanted to confit the legs. Confit is essentially salting a piece of meat (usually a duck leg) for a short time to pull out extraneous water, then stewing it in its own fat for like 18 hours. The problem with making duck confit is that duck fat is expensive, and getting enough to cover up 2 legs is a total pain in the ass. Which led me to additional research where I learned that an equally effective, and less fussy way is to make them sous vide.
Sous vide is a cooking method where you seal food in an airtight bag (like a Foodsaver vacuum sealed bag), then put it in a temperature-controlled water bath to cook it slowly and to a very specific temperature. This allows for very intense control over just HOW cooked your meal ends up. Many people will sous vide a steak to medium rare throughout, then toss it in a screaming hot cast iron pan to sear on the outside. It allows for you to prepare a large cut of meat for something like a dinner party without worrying about it getting overcooked, even if guests are late or whatever unforeseen circumstance may come up. The main point of making duck confit using the sous vide method is that you can essentially surround the duck in duck fat for cooking, but only need to use like a tablespoon or two, so it’s much more manageable.
Sous vide can be done with regular kitchen implements (a large pot, a thermometer, and a stovetop) if you’re good at babysitting things and can come up with a stovetop setting that will hold the pot at 147 degrees for several hours. I am incredibly forgetful though, and knowing me, I would decide to run to the store, only to determine that I am in need of something from Costco, then come home 3 hours later to a pot of boiling water and a wholly destroyed ribeye. Sous vide machines, where they circulate precisely temperature controlled water are a great option, if you have $400+ to blow on them. Not knowing whether I will even LIKE doing sous vide though, I am not willing to invest half the price of my stove. Enter the Dorkfood Temp Controller. It’s $100, and is apparently accurate to .2 degrees. It is a box with a plug and a probe. You set your desired water bath temp, then plug a crock pot, or rice cooker, or toaster oven(probably don’t sous vide in a toaster), or whatever into it, stick your probe in, and let it go! It controls the power to the crock pot, turning it on and off to maintain an even temp right where you want it. With over 100 reviews and a 5/5 star rating, I’m willing to take a gamble and give it a shot. It just came this morning, so I am excited to give it a try this week, and have a go at confitting those duck legs this coming weekend!