Kitchen confidential: Thomas LeRoy, Zinc
The secret to good cooking is: good basic products and a little imagination. I'm able to use locally grown fruits and vegetables and imported cheese and butter from France, and that alone makes a world of difference.
The secret to success in the restaurant business is: Integrity. Don't cheat the customer. Show respect for the people who help you earn a living. Be consistent in the product you offer. There's too much competition in Charlottesville to be mediocre.
The secret to making Confit de canard (duck Confit) is: not a secret anymore now that I'm giving you the recipe. But, I will pass it on as others have before me.
Zinc's Confit de canard
4 legs of duck
2-3 cups of fat (duck fat would be best, but lard or even simple oil will do)
Salt and sugar for curing process
For the garnish:
1 lb. of potatoes (fingerling or Yukon gold)
½ lb. of porcini mushrooms (shitake or cremini are fine)
10-12 cloves of peeled garlic
For duck legs, place legs in pan, skin facing down, and sprinkle salt and pepper. Place another pan with weight on it (the applied pressure will remove excess water). Keep the pan overnight in refrigerator.
Drain excess water from pan and pour in melted fat.
Place in a 300-degree oven until meat pulls off the bone (2-3 hours)
Slice and sauté mushrooms
Cook garlic in oil in same oven at 300 degrees (about 20 minutes or until soft)
Roast fingerlings whole about 25 minutes, or until soft. Slice potatoes and combine with garlic and mushrooms in a sauté pan with a little of the Confit fat. Add chopped parsley.
To reheat the duck, place in oven at 400 degrees to get the skin side crispy.
Serves four. Bon appétit!