One of the best ways to tenderize a notoriously tough goose leg is with the confit technique. In this recipe, instead of using duck fat for cooking the thighs, coconut oil is applied to impart subtle flavor for a twist on a traditional recipe.
Confit is a French technique for slow cooking duck legs. Their fat was used for cooking and storing to preserve in the days before refrigeration. Today, using duck fat isn’t necessary and can be costly. Coconut oil is a fantastic substitute; it’s more economical and can withstand high temperatures when seared at the end.
The theme for this meal is Thai inspired since coconut oil is one of the main ingredients. The goose legs cure in fragrant lemongrass and chili dry-brine; this keeps the meat juicy while cooking. The acidity of the salad balances out the richness of the coconut legs perfectly.
Not all of the ingredients that make up this salad are authentic to Thailand, but the combination of sweet, spicy, salty, and sour hits the nail on the head. In Thailand, green papaya salad, or som tam, is quintessential to their cuisine. However, depending on where you live it can be challenging to find unripe papaya.
I’ve discovered that raw zucchini is a great substitute. Zucchini provides similar texture and is neutral in flavor which is necessary considering how bold the other ingredients are.
Serve this refreshing salad with jasmine rice for a delicious meal on a warm sunny day.
- 2 pounds of bone-in legs of goose or duck
- 1 tbsp. kosher salt, or as needed
- 1 lemongrass stalk (optional)
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 2 tsp. red chile flakes
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 6 cups coconut oil, or as needed
- 4 small zucchinis
- 2 carrots
- 2 cups shredded napa cabbage
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced
- 1 bird eye chili or serrano pepper, minced
- ¼ cup chopped roasted peanuts
- 3 tbsp. lime juice
- 1 tbsp. fish sauce
- 2 tbsp. honey
- 1 tbsp. grated ginger
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- ¼ cup golden raisins
- ¼ cup oil
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- The day before you plan to cook, make the cure. Peel the outer, woody layers off the lemongrass stalk and then beat in with the back of your knife. This bruising releases oils. Mince the lemongrass. Mix the salt, lemongrass, garlic and red chili flakes in a small bowl to make the cure. Sprinkle enough of the cure to cover both sides of the legs, but not so much that you need to rinse off before cooking. Cover tightly with plastic and place in the refrigerator up to 24 hours in advance.
- Lay the legs into the bottom of a large crockpot and scoop in the coconut oil. The oil needs to be soft enough to scoop out with a large spoon or melted to pour in. You can warm it up using a double boiler (if the coconut container is plastic), or place inside a warm oven (if the container is glass).
- Set the heat on the crockpot to high only long enough to melt the oil, and then reduce to low. Allow the goose legs to slowly cook undisturbed for 4 to 6 hours, depending on the size of the legs you use. You want the meat to be fork tender, but not so tender that it shreds into pieces inside the oil.
- When the legs are about an hour from being done, start to prep the salad. Use a small, hand-held tool to julienne the zucchinis and carrots. Alternatively, use the large holes of a grater. Place the julienned or shredded zucchini in a colander and sprinkle with salt. Let it sit and drain liquid for at least an hour. Mince and slice the remaining ingredients for the salad (cabbage, green onions, chili, peanuts and tomatoes).
- In a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, fish sauce, honey, ginger, garlic, golden raisins and oil until emulsified. Set aside until ready to use and allow the raisins to rehydrate.
- Transfer the zucchini into a large bowl with the carrots, cabbage, tomatoes, green onions, chili and peanuts. Don’t pour the dressing in until you are ready to serve as it will wilt the vegetables very quickly.
- When the goose legs are tender, use tongs to remove one by one. Let excess oil drip off, but don’t feel the need to pat dry.
- Heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high. Pour in a spoonful of the coconut oil used for confit. Sear each side of the legs to finish. You can grill the legs over high heat instead.
- Toss the dressing with the vegetables for the Thai salad and serve immediately with the goose legs.