The Duck Mirabelle
To make this dish it is important to have at least four ducks and to know how to bone out the birds. Use (Pekin) Long Island Duck.
Courtesy: Chef Guy Reuge, Mirabelle
4 Pekin ducks, 3 ½ lbs. each, 4 shallots, cut in half, 2 heads of garlic, split, 1 tablespoon black peppercorns, 4 sprigs fresh thyme, 2 bay leaves, 10 juniper berries, salt and pepper,
Remove the breasts and legs from the duck and trim them well of excess fat and skin, reserving the fat and skin. Remove all fat and skin from the bones and reserve it. Set aside the bones for duck stock.
Using a sharp knife make crisscross incisions on the skin of the breasts and arrange the duck breasts skin side up on a sheet tray. Refrigerate the breasts, uncovered, for 2 days in order to dry out the skin.
Season the legs with salt and pepper on both sides, transfer them to a shallow roasting pan, and add the shallots, garlic, peppercorn, thyme, bay leaves, and juniper berries. Refrigerate the duck legs overnight.
Transfer the reserved fat and skin from the breasts, legs, and bones to a saucepan. Add 1 cup of water and bring it to a boil over moderately high heat. Reduce the heat to moderate and cook the mixture until the water is evaporated and the fat is completely melted, cooking the skin down. The melted fat will become golden and clear and the remaining skin crisp. Carefully pass the melted fat through a sieve into a large bowl, let it cool, and refrigerate it overnight.
The next day melt the fat in a saucepan, pour it over the duck legs to submerge them, and bring it to a boil over moderately high heat. Transfer the roasting pan to a preheated 250 F. oven and cook the duck legs for at least 2 ½ hours, or until they are cooked through and feel soft. This process is called confit. Let the pan cool and refrigerate the legs, keeping them in the roasting pan. The duck legs can be refrigerated for up to a month as long as they are completely submerged in the chilled fat.
Remove the duck legs from the fat, place them skin side down in a shallow roasting pan, and roast the duck legs in a preheated 350 F. for 35 minutes, or until the fat is absorbed and the skin is crisped.
Season the breasts on both sides with salt and pepper. Sear the breasts skin side down in a hot dry skillet over medium heat, removing the excess fat from the pan from time to time. Cook the breasts until the skin is crispy and golden and turn them over. Continue to cook the breasts until they are medium rare. Transfer the breasts to a cooling rack and let them rest for 10 minutes before serving. Slice the breasts into 5 or 6 pieces.
Serve the breasts first with a garnish and sauce of your choice. Follow with the duck leg confit either simply with a small salad or other preparation of your choice.