Recipe: Duck Confit with Parsnip Purée and Spiced Prunes

For our holiday entertaining guide, Chef Barbara Lynch shares six recipes for a festive spread. Here's how to make a duck confit dish.

barbara lynch duck confit recipe

Photograph by Pat Piasecki

Duck Confit with Parsnip Purée and Spiced Prunes

Adapted from Stir: Mixing It Up in the Italian Tradition

Serves 8

Duck Confit

  • 1 ½ tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 ½ tsp. fennel seeds
  • 1 ½ tsp. black peppercorns
  • 1 ½ tsp. coriander seeds
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 c. kosher salt
  • ½ c. sugar
  • 8 Long Island (Pekin) duck legs, trimmed of excess fat*
  • 8 Long Island (Pekin) duck breasts, trimmed of excess fat*
  • 6 – 8 c. rendered duck fat*

Grind the thyme, fennel, peppercorns, coriander, and bay leaf together in a spice grinder or a coffee grinder dedicated to spices, and then combine the ground spices with salt and sugar. (This makes more than you will need for the confit, but it keeps well and is delicious sprinkled on roasts of all kinds.)

Put the legs in a baking dish and sprinkle them with about ½ cup of the curing mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate the legs for at least a few hours, preferably overnight.

Heat the oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. In a pot large enough to hold the legs and breasts, heat the duck fat to melt it. Pat the duck pieces dry and slide them into the melted fat. The fat should completely cover the duck. (If not, you can add melted duck fat or even grapeseed oil to cover.)

Cook in the oven until the meat is very tender but not falling apart, three to four hours. (When the thighbone loosens fairly easily from the leg, the meat is cooked.) Allow the duck to cool in the fat at room temperature. The duck can be stored in the fat for weeks. When you are ready to use, gently warm the fat and pull out as many portions as you need.

*Long Island or Pekin Duck is available from many butchers and online from D’Artagnan.

Parsnip Purée

  • 1 lb. parsnips, peeled and chopped (about 4 c.)
  • 1 ½ c. whole milk
  • 1 ½ tbsp. unsalted butter
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place the parsnips and milk in a saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer. Cover the pan with a piece of parchment paper and cook until parsnips are tender, about 20 minutes. Strain the parsnips, reserving the milk. Purée the parsnips and butter with ½ cup of the milk in a blender, adding more milk if necessary to make a smooth purée. Pass through a fine mesh strainer into another bowl if not using right away, or into another saucepan. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Spiced Prunes

  • 1 tbsp. black peppercorns
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 clove
  • 1 ½ lb. prunes, pitted
  • ¼ c. sugar
  • ½ c. dry red wine
  • ¼ tsp. red wine vinegar

Cut a large single-layer square of cheesecloth 8 inches long. Place the peppercorns, cinnamon, star anise, and clove in the center and pull up the edges. Gathering the edges like a beggar’s pouch, tightly wrap some kitchen twine around the top to enclose the spices. This is your spice sachet.

In a medium saucepan, combine the prunes, sugar, red wine, and spice sachet and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is reduced to a syrup and the prunes are quite soft, 45 minutes to an hour. Remove and discard the spice sachet, stir in the red wine vinegar, and remove from the heat.

To Assemble the Dish

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove the duck legs and breasts from their storage place in the duck fat. Heat and crisp the duck legs and breasts by melting a tablespoon or two of the duck fat from the confit in a heavy sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add as many legs and breasts as will fit without touching, skin side down, and crisp the skin in the hot fat, about three minutes. Turn the legs and breasts over, transfer to a sided baking sheet, and finish heating them in the oven, about five minutes. Repeat with any remaining pieces if necessary, pouring off the fat between batches if excessive.

barbara lynch making duck confit oven

Photograph by Pat Piasecki


Check out all six Barbara Lynch recipes in our holiday entertaining guide, “A Chef’s Holiday.”