Topaz Restaurant

Rich, sweet and meltingly tender; it can only be duck confit (done Topaz-style)

The word ‘confit’ comes from the French ‘confire’, meaning to preserve and, when used in relation to duck, goose and pork, describes the way that the meat is salted, softly poached for hours in its own fat, and then placed in a pot covered in the fat, where it can be kept for months and later consumption. The result is rich, tender, succulent meat that falls off the bone and can be turned into rillettes, used in a cassoulet or, our favourite, heated, crisped and served as duck confit.

The dish is a specialty of France’s rebel region, Gascony, the wild, southwestern corner of France that is the home of rich, lusty food that feeds the soul — you can leave your diet on the borders, if you can find them. It also happens to be the home of Thalias’ founder, Arnaud Darc.

Our duck comes from Lafitte in the Landes region to the west of Gascony. Lafitte raise ducks from ancient stock naturally and using traditional methods, which also means they don’t grow faster than their bodies are able to handle, fattening them up with whole non-genetically modified corn that doesn’t contain additives or preservatives. The result is even richer, more tender meat.

If you’re planning on making duck confit at home, it’s actually not that difficult. Simply take a couple of duck legs, salt them for a few hours to a day or two at least one day before cooking. On the day, wipe the marinade fully off, then dry and poach the duck in goose or duck fat at a temperature where the fat emits a bubble every few seconds, and leave it there until the meat is tender at the bone, around two-and-a-half hours. Then pot the pieces in the cooking fat, where they will keep for months — provided the pots are completely sterile. To cook them, simply remove from the fat, cook them in a frying pan skin-side down on medium-high for four minutes, then transfer to a 220°C oven for half an hour until the skin is crisp and heated through.

At Topaz, though, we like to do things a little differently. Executive Chef Sopheak Pov (above) decided he could add a little more to the rich flavours of duck confit, and so instead of simply salting the pieces as is traditional, he also adds a medley of herbs and allows the meat to marinate for four days. And that’s not all. To give all that richness an extra boost, he then mixes the duck with duck fat and trimmings, the fat from foie gras and seals it all in a vacuum bag, before cooking it at 70° sous vide for 20 hours.

Few ever forget their first duck confit. And don’t be afraid to use the little white toque (chef’s hat) to pick it up with your fingers and really finish it off.