Esteemed French Chef Antoine Westermann recently opened his first New York City restaurant. It’s called Le Coq Rico: The Bistro of Beautiful Birds. And when you want beautiful birds, D’Artagnan is the place to find them.
What is confit? Very simply, it is a French word meaning “preserved.” More specifically, it is a pre-refrigeration strategy for meat preservation. In this case, we are talking about duck leg; meaty, delicious, and cooked in duck fat and aromatics for hours. This makes it tender and helps to preserve the meat.
Traditionally, duck leg confit would be stored in jars of duck fat, with a layer of pork fat on top for good measure. These pots of confit would make it through winter in a cool basement or root cellar. Today it is kept in vacuum-sealed bags in the refrigerator, but the flavor is just as satisfying.
In the early days of D’Artagnan duck was the first product we sold. In our “everything but the quack” philosophy, we put each part to good use. Along with foie gras and duck breast, the moulard duck provides hefty legs that lend themselves to confit… and plenty of duck fat for cooking them. And so we started making vats of duck confit!
Technically speaking, duck confit falls in the broad and glorious category that is charcuterie. All smoked, cured, and cooked meats belong there; your favorites like bacon, ham, salami, prosciutto are all charcuterie. Read more
Duck magret – or duck breast – is the new steak. And the rich, red meat of duck breast is every bit as satisfying as beef. Many restaurants now offer it on the menu, and people are searing duck breasts at home for quick weeknight meals. Duck breast has arrived. But once upon a time, say 30 years ago, it was not that way.
Many years before that, her father Chef André Daguin, had raw duck breasts in the kitchen waiting to be submerged in duck fat and turned into confit. A hungry customer, too late for lunch, arrived and there was not much left in the larder. Chef Daguin pan seared a duck breast, treating it like a steak. This interesting – and delicious – new idea took fire. Soon everyone in Southwest France was searing duck breasts and serving them rare.
And Ariane came to the United States with that history. So the plump breasts of the ducks quickly became a signature D’Artagnan product. And duck magret has remained one of our most popular items for the past 30 years.
If you’ve never tried “duck steak,” don’t hesitate. It’s easy to prepare, as you can see in this video, where Sara Moulton and Ariane cook duck breast together. It’s also quick – a 30-minute meal with duck breast at the center is a reality. Not sure where to start? We have plenty of duck recipes at dartagnan.com to guide you.
If you make duck magret at home, be sure to share photos with us on social media! We are @dartagnanfoods on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Tag us – we love to see what’s cooking!
Like many other recipes, the foie gras terrine is named for the vessel in which it is cooked. Other examples include the iconic cassoulet, named after the cassole (a tapered clay pot) it is cooked in. And the word casserole is from the French for sauce pan, in which a casserole is assembled and cooked.
Much the same, a foie gras terrine is cooked in a terrine mold, usually a porcelain one with a tightly-fitted lid. A whole, raw foie gras is packed into a terrine mold and cooked at low temperature in a water bath with only a few ingredients: salt, pepper and Sauternes wine. The foie gras is actually steamed in its own juices under the terrine lid.
A tip: nestle the terrine on a folded dish towel in the pan of hot water, so the towel holds the terrine still. After the terrine is fully cooked, the excess fat (foie gras butter – freeze it for later!) is drained off and set aside. This can be poured back on top of the preparation to protect it as it rests in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days while the flavor develops. If you want to try your hand at this classic preparation of foie gras, follow Ariane’s recipe. And to see how it’s made, watch our video of Ariane and Chef Wylie Dufresne preparing foie gras terrine and torchon together.
In Gascony, the capital of foie gras in France, the terrine of foie gras is traditionally served cold, still in the terrine mold with serving spoons and a bowl of hot water. The spoons are dipped into the hot water, to cleanly slice through the rich foie gras, which is usually spread in a slice of bread. In the United States, foie gras terrine is more commonly served thinly sliced, on elegant toast points or flaky pastry shells.
A foie gras terrine can be unmolded gently onto a clean cutting board. Run warm water over the outside of the terrine dish to loosen it slightly. For slicing, use a knife that has been dipped in hot water to make clean, perfect slices every time. Remember that foie gras is delicate, so it’s best to handle it with care. Thin slices can be fanned out on a platter for serving.
Serve terrine chilled with slices of crusty peasant breast, toasted brioche, cranberry walnut loaf, and any jam or fruit compote to complement the creamy, fatty flavor. Drink a glass of Sauternes or late-harvest Jurançon, both sweet wines from the Southwest of France.
For a fancy dish, foie gras torchon has a humble name. This sister to foie gras terrine is similarly named for the vessel in which it is cooked. “Torchon” means “dish towel” in French, since the foie gras was traditionally wrapped tightly in a towel for cooking. You may see torchon wrapped in a towel, or muslin, to make that historical connection.
Today cheesecloth is more commonly used to form the raw foie gras into a cylindrical shape. The oblong bundle is then gently poached in a pot of water or stock to cook it.
And we are celebrating the day! As you may know, D’Artagnan is founded and owned by a woman, the inimitable Ariane Daguin.
Ariane was born into a world of great food. Her father, Chef André Daguin, is famous throughout France for his artistry with foie gras and other Gascon specialties. Ariane was expert at deboning ducks, rendering duck fat, preparing terrines and cooking game birds by the time she was ten.
A career in food might have seemed natural, but there was no place for a woman in the strict culinary hierarchy in France. Instead, Ariane decided to pursue an academic degree at Columbia University. While working part-time for a New York pâté producer, Ariane was in the right place when the opportunity to market the first domestically produced foie gras presented itself. She and a co-worker pooled their financial resources to launch D’Artagnan in 1985 as the first purveyor of game and foie gras in the U.S. She hasn’t looked back.
Devoted advocates for natural, sustainable and humane production, Ariane and D’Artagnan have been at the forefront of the organic movement in America, pioneering organic, free-range chicken (years before the FDA allowed the word “organic” on the label), and humanely-raised veal. She continues to find ways to bring innovative products to the market, all while staying true to her mission.
Ariane has always been an advocate of women in the kitchen, having broken the stainless steel ceiling herself. And she is quick to mentor and support women in every walk of life. Here are a few photos from the archives of Ariane with some pretty incredible women.
We celebrate the accomplishments of women everywhere today – and every day.
We never need an excuse to stuff mushrooms….but for National Snack Month Ariane was invited to share her recipe on Local 12 News. Watch the short video here and start stuffing!
And you can read the simple recipe on our website. Great for parties or snack time, these stuffed mushrooms are a staff favorite.
This recipe is inspired by the classic Joël Robuchon mashed potato recipe which calls for equal parts potato and butter. Garlic cloves slow-cooked in duck fat are added, along with a generous amount of black truffle butter for intensely earthy and rich potatoes.
2lbs Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
8-12 tablespoons Black Truffle Butter, more as needed
4 cloves Garlic Confit
Coarse salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Fresh Black Truffle, for shaving (optional)
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add potatoes. Cook until just fork-tender. You don’t want soggy potatoes.
2. Drain potatoes in a colander and shake well to remove excess water.
3. Place potatoes in a large bowl, add truffle butter and season with salt and pepper. Mash the butter into the potatoes with a masher to desired consistency. They can be as chunky or smooth as you like. Alternatively, you can pass the potatoes through a ricer and then mix in butter and garlic confit, making sure to mash garlic into potatoes with back of spoon. Adjust seasoning and top with thinly-shaved black truffle. Serve.
The Epoch Times has reported Ariane’s official New Year’s Eve plans. She’s going to ring in 2015 quietly, at home with a few friends. Those friends include Chef Hélène Darroze and Chef Bernard Liberatore, so the food needs to be great.
You know it will be. Ariane is going to provide the best ingredients from D’Artagnan: caviar, foie gras and mangalica ham. It’s shaping up to be a lavish feast. In a last-minute change Ariane decided to serve Wagyu striploin instead of lobster, because, hey, it’s Wagyu.
We’ll have to wait and see how this crowd of kitchen luminaries decides to cook it all up. You can bet we’ll be asking Ariane for photos!
As for drinks, don’t worry about this crowd. Ariane will serve Pousse-Rapiere, which is the aperitif of choice in Gascony. This can be replicated at home with Armagnac, sparkling wine and a slice of orange. But the “push of the rapier” is quiet strong, as this amusing blog post attests. If you don’t have the special flute with a rapier on the side for measuring, no worries. Substitute a champagne flute. And check this site for more information about this delightful cocktail.
We wish you all a Happy New Year full of tasty adventures. And let us know how you spend the evening – and what you eat! Salut!