By Rivka Friedman (adapted from Thomas Keller)
2 duck legs
about 1 ¾ cups duck fat
1 tablespoon kosher salt
½ tablespoon light brown sugar
1 bay leaf, broken into pieces
½ tablespoon thyme
1 ½ tablespoons packed flat‐leaf parsley
Special equipment: oven thermometer
Combine salt and herbs in spice blender and process until well combined. set aside.
Clean duck legs of any excess fat and skin — be sure to leave about 1/4‐inch overhang of skin on each leg.
Weigh the duck legs so you know how much cure to use: you want 2 tablespoons of herb salt for 1 pound of duck legs. (Each of my legs weighed about 1/2 a pound.) Rub about 1 tablespoon of herb salt over each leg, and put the legs flesh side up in a single layer in a baking dish that holds them comfortably. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 hours.
Preheat the oven to 190 degrees F. You’ll need an oven thermometer, because ovens tend to fluctuate — especially at this low temperature — you’ll want to check and calibrate the temperature accordingly.
Rinse the duck legs thoroughly (you want to remove as much of the salt as possible so the legs aren’t overly salty when cooked), dry thoroughly, and place them in an ovenproof pot with a lid. Add enough melted duck fat to cover the legs, and heat over medium heat just until fat is warmed.
Cover the pot, transfer to the oven, and cook for 8‐10 hours. Check a duck leg for doneness at 8 hours by carefully lifting it and piercing it with a knife. The meat should be meltingly tender. If needed, continue cooking for up to 2 more hours, being careful not to overcook them.
Carefully remove the legs from the fat and transfer to a storage container. Cover with plastic wrap and transfer to the refrigerator.
Cool the fat in a separate container. Once the fat has cooled (at least overnight in the fridge), use a spoon to carefully scrape the fat off the juices, which will have jelled. The jelled duck juice makes the most fabulous base for sauces and soups, so save it! Once the fat has been separated from the juice, add the fat to the container with the duck legs, smooth the fat so it surrounds the legs, and refrigerate. Duck legs will keep for at least a month.