The Easy Pantry Substitution For More Affordable Duck Confit

Confit may sound like the work of a Michelin-starred chef, but any home cook can master its easy-peasy technique. It's basically a fancy way of saying that the food in question is coated in a salt cure and then cooked in a fat bath over several hours, per MasterClass. Duck legs are usually associated with confit, especially in Gascony, France, though, as D'Artagnan states, foie gras, giblets, garlic, and tomatoes are all suitable options for this French technique.

So let's talk about that slow, warm fat bath for a moment. This typically occurs over a period of three to four hours in a 225 degrees F oven, via Food Republic, or up to 1½ hours in a pot, per the James Beard Foundation. Between the temperatures of 140-160 degrees F, all that collagen starts to break down, eventually resulting in those beloved melt-in-your-mouth flavors. A big part of this also comes from the fat you decide to use.

Duck fat is a prime choice for confit because it imparts richness and complexity to foods, as mentioned by DUCKCHAR. But sometimes, one might not be able to find duck fat in local supermarkets, which is where substitutions come in handy. And luckily, we've found one that's (generally) more affordable than duck fat and it's probably already in your pantry.

Grab a bottle of olive oil

So first off, let's talk about the cost differences between olive oil and duck fat. According to The Spruce Eats, the typical size range for tubs and jars of duck fat is 7-12 ounces. You can also purchase duck fat in quarts or in pounds. The cheapest duck fat on The Spruce Eats' list is $7.99, with prices varying from there. Many of these products can also be found online, though you might be able to find some in supermarkets like Whole Foods.

Olive oil, on the other hand, is generally found at supermarkets for around $10 or less, though fancier brands will likely cost more. You'll also get more bang for your buck with olive oil since the size range is around 17 ounces or more, per Taste of Home.

To substitute olive oil for duck fat, The Kitchn explains that salt and herbs should first be used to season the legs and thighs of duck. Let this dry-brine for a few days in the fridge. Next, take a pot, add the duck meat to it, and pour olive oil over it (the meat should be completely submerged in the oil). The source then states to transfer the pot to the oven for the simmering step. (Make sure your pot or vessel in question is oven-proof.) According to Serious Eats, the oven should be at 225 degrees F and the duck meat should be cooked for up to four hours.