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Duck Confit

From the fresh fish markets of Portugal to the bustling city streets of New York hails a chef whose natural talent has lips licking and mouths watering ten miles away. Recognized first for his exquisite touch at age 22, after working as Chef de Cuisine for the Ambassador of Portugal to Holy See, Carlos Arriaga decided to pack up his knives and brave the Atlantic, setting out towards the foamy harbors of the big apple.

This season, let Chef Arriaga into your home with this delectable recipe for Duck Confit.

Yield 4
Prep time 3 hours

  • 4 Moulard duck legs
  • 1 Tbs fresh thyme
  • 1 Tbs fresh rosemary
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  1. In cold water rinse and pat dry the duck legs. Trim the excess fat and set aside.
  2. Place the legs in a large oven prof skillet, skin side down, and tuck the trimmed fat around the duck.
  3. Season the meat with salt, pepper, thyme, rosemary, bay leaf and crushed garlic.
  4. Cover the skillet with foil; place it in a pre-heated oven at 325 f degrees. Allow cooking for 2 hours. Remove skillet; uncover and flip the legs skin up. At this point the goal is to have the meat sinking in to the fat; cover and return to oven for another hour or until the meat is tender and the skin is turning golden brown.
  5. This dish goes well with a mushroom risotto and dry mission figs chutney. It may be prepared days in advance and stored in fridge preserved in it’s own fat.

A native of Lisbon, Arriaga’s interest in cooking was evident from the age of five, when he would accompany his grandmother to the fish market to choose the catch of the day. “Before I could properly carry on a conversation, I was able to name most types of fish” he says. And such love for fresh fish and seafood clearly set the professional path Arriaga would later follow in life. From the age of 15, even before finishing high school, Arriaga knew that he wanted to become a professional chef. And shortly after graduating in 1996, he enrolled in a vocational training course in cooking and pastry arts at the School of Hotel Management and Tourism in Coimbra, northern Portugal.

Upon graduation in 1999, his first job was as Line Cook at the upscale Vintage House Hotel in Pinhao, in the Douro Valley, a Relais & Chateaux property. That same year, Jose De Bouza Serrano, an appointed diplomat of Portugal to the Holy See, was vacationing in the Douro Valley. And after a three-day stay at the Vintage House Hotel and tasting Arriaga’s cooking, Ambassador Serrano invited Arriaga to move to Rome to cook at the embassy. At the tender age of 22, Arriaga became Chef de Cuisine at the Official Residence of the Ambassador of Portugal to the Holy.

In 2002, upon visiting New York, Arriaga could not resist the allure of having a “Big Apple” experience and accepted the position of Chef de Cuisine at Alfama, The Portuguese restaurant in Manhattan.

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