Chef's Day Off Maker's Mark® Duck Confit Mac and Cheese
by Matthew Jennings, Chef and Owner, La Laiterie
Duck Confit? Yes. Mac and Cheese? Yes. Add Maker's Mark® to all that? Pure magic. This made-from-scratch mac and cheese is well worth the effort. If you don't have time to make your own duck confit, you can usually find cooked legs online or in your gourmet grocer's meat section.
Prep Time: 2 days beforehand
Cook Time: 1 hour
Makes 10–12 servings
3 tablespoons salt
4 cloves garlic, smashed
1 large shallot, peeled and sliced
6 sprigs thyme
Coarsely ground black pepper
4 duck legs with thighs
4 cups duck fat
- Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of salt in the bottom of a dish or plastic container large enough to hold the duck pieces in a single layer. Evenly scatter half the garlic, shallots, and thyme in the container. Arrange the duck, skin-side up, over the salt mixture, then sprinkle with the remaining salt, garlic, shallots, thyme and a little pepper. Cover and refrigerate for 1-2 days.
- Preheat the oven to 225°F. Melt the duck fat in a small saucepan. Under cold water, rinse the salt and seasonings off the duck. Next, pat them dry with paper towel, thoroughly. Once dry, arrange the duck pieces in a single snug layer in a high-sided baking dish or ovenproof saucepan. Pour the melted fat over the duck (the duck pieces should be covered by fat), and place the confit in the oven. Cook the confit slowly, until the duck is tender and can be easily pulled from the bone. Remove the confit from the oven, then cool and store the duck in the fat. (The confit will keep in the refrigerator for several weeks, and you can reuse the strained duck fat, once poured into a container and cooled.)
Mac and Cheese
3/4 cup Maker's Mark® Bourbon
2 cups smoked gouda cheese, coarsely grated
1-1/2 cups extra sharp cheddar cheese, coarsely grated
1 cup fresh chévre (un-aged goat cheese), crumbled
5 tablespoons duck fat, reserved from confit
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons fresh thyme, minced
2 teaspoons fresh sage, minced
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 cups whole milk
2 cups shredded or pulled duck confit meat, packed full
1-3/4 cups fresh breadcrumbs made from crust-less French baguette
1 pound dry penne or macaroni pasta
8 teaspoons heavy cream, if assembling the cups the day before serving
Salt and black pepper
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Mix all cheeses. Set aside 1 cup for topping in a separate bowl; cover and chill.
- Melt 4 tablespoons duck fat in large saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and stir until mixture turns golden hue, about 4 minutes. Deglaze with bourbon by pouring it in. Reduce the bourbon by half. Add the thyme, sage, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Gradually whisk in milk and heavy cream. Simmer until thickened and smooth, stirring often, about 4 minutes.
- Add cheeses from large bowl. Stir until melted and smooth. Gently fold in the 2 cups of pulled duck confit meat until well combined. Set aside. Adjust seasoning to your liking.
- Melt the remaining tablespoon of duck fat in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the breadcrumbs; toss. Stir until golden, about 2 minutes. Transfer to plate.
- Cook pasta in boiling salted water until tender but firm to bite. Drain. Transfer to large bowl. Pour cheese and confit sauce over; toss. Divide among eight 1-1/4 cup custard cups/ramekins. Sprinkle with the reserved cheese. Place cups on rimmed baking sheet.
- Cover with foil; chill for 1 hour. Uncover, drizzle each with 1 teaspoon cream. Cover with foil; bake 15 minutes, chill.
- Uncover, then sprinkle partially baked chilled or just assembled cups with breadcrumbs. Bake pasta until beginning to bubble and tops are golden, about 20 minutes. Serve immediately.