For my book, Entertaining at Home, hostess Ruth Davis hosted an easy and elegant dinner, with duck confit served over wild rice taking centerstage. Making confit is a time-tested French technique for preserving duck legs in fat. Although most people no longer need to keep duck through the winter without refrigeration, the technique is still used today because it imparts delicious flavor.
For this celebration, she opted for a pared-down tabletop. Custom crocheted linen napkins serve dual duty by also gently cradling handwritten place cards. Brass cutlery, pin candlesticks, cut vines from the backyard, wooden chargers, and simple white plates provide a flawless backdrop for rustic duck confit, fresh figs, winter squash cakes, braised Swiss chard, and wild rice.
A good supply of candles and matches
A plentiful supply of ironed dinner napkins
A large selection of white dinnerware
A variety of serving bowls and platters
A selection of wine and champagne glasses
A well-stocked bar (a range of spirits and liqueurs)
A good selection of vases in various sizes
ALL THE BEST PRODUCTS MAKE ENTERTAINING EASY
This method of preparing duck is truly simple and outrageously good. The cooked duck legs will last for five days in the refrigerator. When ready to serve, reheat in a 350ºF oven until warm. Once warmed through, place the legs under the broiler until crisp.
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 bay leaves, crumbled
3 sprigs thyme, leaves stripped from stems
1 sprig rosemary, leaves stripped from stems
8 Moulard duck legs, rinsed and patted dry (do not trim)
In a small bowl, combine salt, pepper, bay leaf pieces, thyme, and rosemary. Sprinkle the duck legs generously with the mixture. Place the duck legs in a single layer in a roasting pan or other container large enough to hold them in a single layer. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 hours.
The following day, preheat the oven to 325°F. Place the duck legs, fat sides down, in a large ovenproof skillet. Arrange the legs in a snug single layer (if necessary, use two skillets to avoid overcrowding).
Heat the duck legs on the stove over medium-high heat until the duck starts to render its fat. Once there is 1/4 inch of rendered fat in the skillet(s), about 20 minutes, gently flip the duck legs. Carefully cover the skillet(s) with foil and place them in the preheated oven.
Roast the legs for 2 1/2 hours. Remove the foil and continue roasting until duck is golden brown, about 1 additional hour. Remove the duck from its fat and serve.