A few weeks ago I had the Duck Leg Confit from Henni’s Kitchen and Bar in White Salmon and that it was one of the best dishes I’d had in the Gorge. I was blown away by how balanced this amazing dish was. I immediately contacted Christian about coming in to do a post dedicated to his creation. We scheduled a time for me to come to the restaurant and he would show me how he makes the Duck Leg Confit.
Before my morning with Christian, my understanding of how Duck Confit was prepared was pretty basic: duck, slow cooked in it’s own fat. I had never actually seen it done. Christian is a true culinary artist. He began his work as a chef in South Africa at Decameron making pizzas. He’s worked at Fratelli and opened Pause in Portland. He’s worked with John Gorham (of Toro Bravo) among other great chefs. Here in the Gorge he has worked at Abruzzo and at Nora’s Table. Listening to him talk about all the places he’s worked, the books he’s read, and the technique he’s “stolen with his eyes”, I realized how truly fortunate we are to have such a talented, creative, innovative chef here in the Gorge. He uses his unique skills to bring us everyday dishes from around the world.
Christian believes that the three most important things to creating good food are: salt, technique, and ingredients. He believes that you cannot cook anything without salt and, if you have techinique you can make anything taste good. Of course having great ingredients helps. He sources everything he can locally, and gets some special things from Portland. Back to the Duck Confit. Here’s a look at how Christian preps and prepares this great dish…
The duck legs are seasoned with salt, black pepper, curing salt, chili flakes, and crushed fennel. They are given a quick rinse before they are covered in duck fat.
This is what Christian calls “Magic Duck”, in fact that’s how you’ll find it labeled in the walk-in. Have you ever made a really great chicken, or turkey broth and had it turn into gelatin? That’s what you’re looking at here: perfect duck broth. A tiny spoonful of this has so much flavor.We headed over to the stove so Christian could make a plate of the Duck Leg Confit. He sautéed butternut squash (and he threw in some potatoes too) in duck fat unti lthey started to caramelize and brown, then he added green beens and a little bit of the “Magic Duck.”
The veggies are topped with a drizzle of a balsamic vinegar reduction which cuts through the richness of the fat and makes the dish perfectly balanced. With a tiny sprinkle of fennel pollen, the Duck Leg Confit was finished.And, let me tell you, it was perfect.
Henni’s Duck Leg Confit is the perfect balance of flavors and textures. It’s truly my favorite dish of the moment.