A taste of France – Duck Confit

It’s less than a week to Christmas and I’m back with another non-festive post. I figure there’ll be plenty of Christmas-related offerings over the next few weeks with all the eating I’ve got planned, so in the meantime here’s something a bit different.

On a recent visit to the big smoke, I stumbled on a lovely little food market in Cardinal Place, Victoria. Frustratingly, I worked round the corner from this weekly market for several years and never quite made it there, and after this fleeting visit I’m kicking myself for my careless neglect of such a little gem. From traditional fish and chips to Caribbean delights; aromatic Indian food, and puffy, delicious-looking empanadas, it’s a foodie’s nirvana.

At things like this, there’s always one queue that’s longer than all the rest. Of course, everything’s probably yummy, but there’s usually a reason why people are flocking to one particular place, and are prepared to wait longer than the average queue for whatever it’s offering.

On this occasion, that place was Duck Confit, a simple but yummy combination of rich, soft confit duck, served in a chunky ciabatta with salad and topped with sweet plum sauce. Think Chinese crispy aromatic duck and pancakes with a twist. Preparing the traditionally-French duck confit is a centuries-old process, where the meat is salt-cured then basically poached in its own fat. You can store it in the fat for months, then grill or fry it, incorporating it in other recipes, or making it the star of its own show, exactly as it was here.

Duck Confit

Duck Confit at Cardinal Place, Victoria, London

As I eagerly took my place in the rather lengthy queue, I could spot a huge paella pan, packed with mounds of shredded, rich duck slowly turning to a rich dark brown colour and crispy consistency with the heat. The combination here is simple. A ciabatta roll, a few lettuce or rocket leaves, then duck piled on top. Next step, would I like plum sauce? Um, yes please! A word of advice, this dish isn’t one to be eaten delicately. You need a napkin to hand, then it’s just a case of diving in and squeezing your mouth round the chunky, heaven-filled roll.

The airy but substantial bread, filled with duck that’s crispy in some places yet soft and melt-in-the-mouth in others. The salad adds a slight crunch, and a nice colour contrast, with the light green dotted throughout the backdrop of dark brown duck meat. The whole thing is tied together with the sweet, rich plum sauce – the perfect accompaniment to duck, and lending that slightly Chinese-style to it.

A delicious duck confit roll

This is certainly a meal in a roll, and one not to be missed. I have a feeling Duck Confit is a food market regular across London, and it’s no surprise it’s a big hit, so if you spot them, be sure to try one.