Sous-Vide Duck Confit with Pomegranate Poached Pear & Mache Salad

Confit preparations originated as a means of preserving meats without the use of refrigeration. The centuries-old process of making duck confit hasn’t evolved much for the simple reason that our ancestors realized it would be dumb to try to improve upon something that’s already perfect. And dumb it would have been. The biggest improvement is relatively recent. Sous-vide machines like SousVide Supreme gave us more control over the temperatures – which is crucial for the break down of the collagen in the legs – while using far less fat than the conventional method because the legs are sealed in a vacuum bag with much less volume to fill.

The step of curing the legs which was once a necessity to keep them from spoiling is an integral part of what makes this dish so great. The mixture of salt, pepper and herbs flavors, tenderizes and help release the excess moisture from the meat. After curing for 24 hours the duck legs are washed in cold running water and vacuum sealed with some duck fat. Just a few tablespoons are necessary when using the sous-vide method. Or none at all if the duck legs are fatty enough.

The conventional method requires you to have anywhere from a few quarts to a bathtub of duck fat. Not that you would see me complain about a bathtub of duck fat.

Since the Sous Vide Supreme was already in use I vacuum-sealed some pears with pomegranate molasses and added the pouches to the water bath. They’re sweet and tart and cut through the richness of the duck confit quite nicely, and with a little salad of mache, walnuts and shaved pecorino on the side this makes next to the perfect meal.

What to drink with duck confit? Duck is one of those dishes that has such intense flavor that its accompaniments are usually on the lighter side. Red wines from the Rhone and whites and reds from Burgundy tend to compliment it well, additionally the off-dry whites from Germany tend to be a good pairing. If you like the Southern Rhone or a fine Burgundy you won’t be disappointed.

  • Sous-Vide Duck Confit w/ Poached Pear and Mache

    • Serves 6
    • For the sous-vide duck confit:
    • 6 large Pekin duck legs
    • 3/4 cup kosher salt
    • 1 1/2 tablespoons black peppercorn, crushed
    • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
    • 2 bay leaves, crumbled
    • 1 teaspoon thyme leaves
    • 1 1/2 cup duck fat
    • For the pomegranate poached pears
    • 3 pears, peeled and halved
    • 3 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
    • 3 tablespoons water
    • juice of 1 lemon
    • pinch of black pepper
    • For the mache salad:
    • mache salad
    • olive oil
    • sherry vinegar
    • salt and pepper
    • toasted walnuts
    • shaved pecorino
    • pomegranate seeds(optional)
    • For the sous-vide duck confit:
    • In a bowl, mix the salt with the crushed peppercorns, garlic, bay leaves and the thyme. Put the duck legs in a large, shallow container and sprinkle them all over with the salt mixture. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours.
    • Fill and preheat the sous-vide machine to 75’C (167’F)
    • Rinse the legs and dry them thoroughly with paper towels. Package the legs in pairs and add 3 to 4 tablespoons of duck fat per pouch. Using a vacuum sealer, seal the bags on high.
    • Place the pouches in the water bath and cook for 10 hours.
    • Cool rapidly the pouches in ice water and refrigerate until ready to use.
    • In a heavy-bottomed skillet, crisp up the duck confit on the skin side. Place in a 375’F oven until heated through.
    • Serve with the pomegranate poached pear and mache salad.
    • For the pomegranate poached pears:
    • Vacuum-seal the pears with the pomegranate syrup, the water, the lemon juice and a pinch of black pepper. Cook sous-vide for 2 to 3 hours, or until tender.
    • For the mache salad:
    • Toss the mache salad with sherry vinegar and olive oil, to taste. Season with salt and pepper. Add the toasted walnuts, shaved pecorino and pomegranate. Serve with the crisp duck confit.
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  • mayssam @ Will Travel for Food

    Absolutely stunning photos! And pomegranate molasses is one of my favourite flavours! Beautiful…

  • MissNom

    Looks gorgeous! Too bad I dont have sous vide machine…

  • Anonymous

    What a great technique!  Such a creative way to use the sous-vide machine, although I’m with you on the duck fat:  a bathtub full is good!  (I love potatoes fried in duck fat.)  The pear is a great addition,and the highlight on the pear in the top photo is gorgeous (whole picture is gorgeous, but I’m smitten by the pear).  Although the garnish (and the pear highlights) on the last photo are great too.  Thanks, too, for the wine tips.  Great post – thank you.

  • Oui, Chef

    Damn you and the way you tease me with your sous vide technology  😉  Duck confit is my “last meal” choice, and if this were my final taste, I know I’d go out with a smile on my face.

  • Yi @ Yireservation

    each of your sous-vide recipes is just making me want to start considering getting a sous-vide machine as well but I know that my tiny kitchen will never have room for it….needless to say another killer recipe from you! Slow cooked duck + duck fat = win!

  • Cooking Rookie

    Looks delicious! 

  • Kiri W.

    Perfect – sous vide is such a perfect cooking method, and your confit looks to die for. Great accompaniment, too!

  • 2Peas

    aaargh! beautiful!!!!!!!

  • Andrea Vigna

    Sembra davvero ottimo

  • Anonymous

    *sigh*…i don’t want to make it but I sure as heck do want to eat it!!!  lovely.

  • Peter Minaki

    That duck leg looks sublime…I want deux!

  • Grubarazzi

    This is absolutely beautiful. 

  • alan

    looks great wonderful picture will make this what kind of camera did you use?
    best wishes

  • Anonymous

    Thanks! I use a Nikon D700 with a 24-70mm lens. 

  • Anonymous

    I’ll give you trois! 

  • Anonymous

    Thank you!

  • Anonymous

    Arrgghhh! Thank you! 

  • Anonymous


  • Anonymous

    haha! Then my job is done. 
    Where have you been!? 

  • Anonymous

    Thank you! Oh, there’s always room somewhere for a sous-vide machine. :) 

  • Anonymous

    Thanks Kiri! It really is a great application for sous-vide. 

  • Anonymous

    Thank you!

  • Anonymous

    Steve, I know that soon or later you’re gonna buy that Sous-Vide Supreme.  :)

  • Anonymous

    Pomegranate molasses FROM Lebanon, please! :)

  • Anonymous

    Time to invest in one!

  • Anonymous

    Thank you! I actually shot that recipe a few months ago and forgot all about it. It was a nice re-discovery. 

  • mayssam @ Will Travel for Food

    Since you only use the very best ingredients, I wouldn’t expect anything else than Lebanese molasses! 😉

  • Tasteslikehome

    I don’t have anything smart, intelligent or interesting to say about this post, so I’ll just gawk! And I’m happy to do so :)

  • alan

    i love pomegranate molasses

  • Tiffany Smith

    Duck confit is my Sunday lunch with fat chips and walnut salad. I shall have to try the sous-vide method. For anyone short of space, I must have the smallest pro kitchen ever, but I got an Addelice portable heater that you can clip onto the side of any recipient you like V. practical.  As for wine, I find an oaked Cahors is the perfect partner, and from the region right next door to the Périgord. Yum!

  • Jon @ vodkitchen

    I am really wanting to get into sousvide cooking – I really like the ease and incredible flavor I keep hearing about.  $500 is a hefty investment, though… maybe someday soon!

  • Linda

    I made this yesterday and it was great.  The pears were stunning – I didn’t even put them in the water bath (no room in my crockpot/PID controller setup) – I just placed them in their bags on the lid and turned them over once and they cooked just fine. The duck was a bit salty – I may skip the confit stage next time and see what happens.

  • Oelholm

    Thank you for a good read! Will serve the pears tomorrow alongside venison – I take it that the temperature is the same as for the duck legs, 75 degrees?