if it looks like a duck

perfecting the "done before they arrive" party- a work in progress

Categories: Poultry, Grains and Pasta, Veggies and Sides, Cocktail Party, Sources, Posted on January 27, 2012 by Sandy Bergsten

Weeknight business dinners call for quick thinking and definite pre-prepping. The key is finding something impressive that won’t wreak havoc on your kitchen or midweek schedule. Duck confit is one of my all time favorites. Before we moved it was my go-to comfort food at Fire, our standing Friday night dinner reservation in Cleveland. While transporting our business supper north isn’t an option, stealing a dish or two off of Fire’s menu certainly is, especially if I can sub in a couple “cheaters”.

Last spring when I had plenty of time on my hands I thought I'd give confiting a try. I went down to Dorothy Lane Market in search of duck legs and rendered duck fat. I was surprised to find an abundance of duck fat but no duck legs that weren't attached to the rest of the bird. For a grocery store the butchers at DLM are the absolute best. I inquired if I could order “just” duck legs and while that might be a possibility the butcher kindly queried if I had ever tried Grimaud Farms Duck Confit seasoned legs. Grimaud was the same purveyor of the rendered duck fat and had an excellent reputation.

I weighed the option of butchering whole ducks then slowly poaching their legs in barely simmering duck lard and storing them almost indefinitely in my refrigerator OR taking home this handy dandy, pre-cooked vacuum sealed package and popping them into a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes until crispy. It didn't take long for me decide.

confit duck legs

Confitting is still on my culinary bucket list but until I get close to kicking it I am a dedicated procurer of this package.Tonight for our dinner I am going to crisp up some legs and serve it with another favorite faker- orzo pretending to be risotto. If you boil orzo in chicken broth then toss it with a myriad of ingredients it has an uncanny resemblance to risotto without the constant stirring, ladling of spoonfuls of broth and last minute serving. Let’s face it, sometimes you want a great homemade meal without all the hoopla, and a Wednesday night business dinner is most definitely one of those times.

roasted grape tomatoes

For the roasted grape tomatoes with basil toss the tomatoes lightly with olive oil on a rimmed baking sheet pan. Spread them out into one layer and sprinkle generously with kosher salt and roast for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the tomato skins just pop. This can be done hours ahead of time. Right before serving put back in the oven until warmed through then toss with slivered basil and serve.

sautéed spinach

The sautéed spinach with garlic gets a definite head start when you lightly sauté the spinach ahead of the time (reducing it’s cumbersome volume) then finishing it off right before serving with some chopped garlic and olive oil.

shitake mushrooms and shallots

Wild mushroom orzo “risotto” is a self-starter when you sauté the mushrooms and shallots ahead of time.


While the duck is reheating bring chicken broth to a boil add the orzo and cook for 8-10 minutes. Drain and toss with the sautéed mushrooms.

confit duck legs

The confit duck legs couldn’t be easier. Separate and place skin side up on a heavy rimmed baking sheet. Brush each leg with ½ tsp duck fat and bake for approximately 15 minutes, until warmed through and slightly crispy.

duck confit

It is almost as if the old home Fire is burning.


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