Duck Confit, Pommes de terre “Sardalaise” and Chimay Tripel

Duck fat is one of the most glorious things ever created, and proof that God exists and wants us to be omnivores. Duck confit is one of my favorite ways of eating duck – although to be honest, there isn’t a duck dish I don’t enjoy. I’m too lazy to confit my own duck – that is, to poach it and store it in its own fat. Luckily, there is canned duck confit from France available for relatively low prices at Rustans and Shopwise groceries. The best part is that there are loads of leftover duck fat for me to use with potatoes, omelets, cassoulet, and your everyday dishes that could use an extra kick of flavor.

The jar of duck confit I purchased had two thighs instead of the usual two legs, but you won’t be getting any complaints from me. The thigh is my favorite part of the any fowl – it has a lot of skin because of its relatively large surface area, lots of fat for flavor, and in the case of duck – savory dark meat. I just crisped up the duck by cooking it in a tablespoon of its own fat over high heat to brown the skin. It’s best to cover the pan when doing this because it will splatter quite a bit. It’s suggested to finish cooking by roasting the duck in the oven, but I was satisfied enough with this. The duck was already cooked through even before it went into the jar, after all. And duck confit is glorious at any temperature.

While the duck was in the pan, I “parboiled” a couple of potatoes in the microwave for four minutes, chopped them into 1-inch pieces, and fried them in the fat left behind in the same pan where I seared the duck. This is not quite your authentic Pommes de terre Sardalaise, the traditional side to a crispy duck confit which involves longer cooking with thinly sliced potatoes. It’s more like home fries in duck fat, but it’s all the same. When the potatoes were crisp and brown, I added some minced garlic and chopped parsley off the heat, tossed all of it together and served it with the duck with a final sprinkle of sea salt and cracked black pepper over everything. This was probably the most luxurious ten-minute meal I’ve had.

I paired this with Chimay Tripel, or simply, Chimay White. It’s dark for a tripel, with the strong head particular with Chimay, even among the heady Belgian beers. It’s malty and well-carbonated, which cut prefectly through the richness of the duck and the duck-fat potatoes. It’s also just barely funky and bitter, just enough to keep the malt sweetness from being too overpowering. I love Chimay’s beers. They’re unbelievably drinkable despite being relatively “big” and complex ales. I started drinking real beer with Chimay, and despite my tastes having changed over months, much less the years since I first tried their beers, they remain among my favorites.

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