Chef Lynn Wheeler entertaining,entrees Duck Confit with Cranberry Gastrique

Duck Confit with Cranberry Gastrique

Duck Confit

Duck is my absolute favorite protein! I have always enjoyed it but the real love affair began when I was working as the Executive Chef at Third & Vine in Jersey City, NJ. We had tried duck prosciutto for our charcuterie offerings and it was amazingly delicious but the cost was a bit too high. I decided to try my hand at making something similar and came up with a smoked duck breast that was easily as delicious and cost much less to make. It quickly became one of our most popular menu items for the 3 years I ran the kitchen.

Obviously, this isn’t smoked duck breast. Duck confit is a classic French preparation and though it takes some time to make it is really quite simple. You only need a few ingredients which are pretty easily accessible. The duck fat can be found in a lot of markets these days, I have actually seen it at my local Walmart. However, if you cannot find it in a store you can definitely order it online or perhaps have your local butcher order it for you.

This duck confit addicting! Crispy skin, tender succulent meat, and they have the perfect flavor from the overnight curing process. Serve them along side some crispy potatoes cooked in the same duck fat and what more could you want! Maybe a side of roasted green beans or creamed spinach and a glass of your favorite red or white wine!

Find the YouTube video here.

Duck Confit

Duck Confit With Cranberry Gastrique

An easy take on a French classic
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Curing Time 12 hours
Total Time 15 hours 15 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine French
Servings 6 people


  • Roasting Pan
  • Deep Fryer optional


For the Duck

  • 6 whole duck leg quarters
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 3 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp granulated garlic
  • 1 tbsp granulated onion
  • 2 tbsp dried oregano
  • 4-5 cups duck fat enough to cover duck legs
  • 10-12 whole garlic cloves

For the Gastrique (sweet & sour sauce)

  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries


For the Duck

  • Combine all the spices and mix well.
  • Sprinkle a thin layer of the spice mixture in the bottom of a roasting pan large enough to hold all 6 duck legs.
  • Coat each duck leg quarter with the spice mix and place them in the roasting pan and sprinkle any remaining spice over the legs.
  • Cover the pan tightly with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight (up to 24 hours).
  • The following day remove the duck from the roasting pan and rinse under cold water to remove all the spices.
  • Place the cleaned duck legs on a double layer of paper towels and pat the tops dry with another clean paper towel. Make sure they are very dry.
  • Clean the roasting pan, put the duck legs back in and cover with duck fat or olive oil.
  • Place the pan in a cold oven and turn the temperature to 250 degrees F and cook for 3 hours.
  • After 3 hours, if you are serving the duck right away remove it from the fat, place it on rack on a baking sheet and put it back in the oven under a low broiler for a few minutes. Keep an eye on it so it doesn't burn!
  • If you are not serving it right away allow it to cool in the fat for 2 hours then remove it to a rack on a baking sheet to drain for about 30 minutes. Store in tightly wrapped in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.
  • To serve remove it from the fridge and cook in a deep fryer at 350 degrees F or if you don't have a deep fryer crisp the skin in a pan on the stove top in the oven at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes.

For the Gastrique

  • Place the vinegar and sugar in a small sauce pan and cook over medium low heat until the sugar has dissolved.
  • Add the dried cranberries and continue cooking the sauce until it is reduced by about 1/3 and looks a little syrupy – it will continue to thicken as it cools.
  • Set aside until ready to sauce the duck.


This recipe will work with chicken leg quarters as well. You can use either schmaltz (rendered chicken fat) or olive oil.
If you cannot find duck fat olive oil will work for this as well since it is cooked at a lower temperature (250 degrees F).
You can used other herbs – dried thyme, rosemary, or Italian seasoning or fresh hard herbs like rosemary or thyme.
Dried cherries can be substituted in the sauce if you don’t like cranberries.
The sauce can be made the day you season the duck and then reheated for serving.
Keyword dinner, duck, duck confit, entertaining, french food, lunch

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