5 hrs 10 mins, plus curing time
Duck confit is a staple in many French dishes, from rillettes to cassoulet, but it can be tricky in the oven, where it requires constant attention to ensure that the fat stays at a steady temperature. But making it in a slow cooker is as easy as combining the melted fat and cured duck legs and walking away, only to return a few hours later to meltingly tender, flavorful meat.
Game plan: After cooking, the duck fat can be strained, cooled, and used again.
Combine the salt, thyme leaves, bay leaves, peppercorns, and juniper berries in a small bowl and stir to mix thoroughly.
Rinse the duck legs and pat dry with paper towels. Place in a large baking dish and spread the salt rub on all sides, distributing the entire rub evenly over the legs. Cover and place in the refrigerator to cure overnight, at least 12 hours.
When ready to cook the legs, place the duck fat in a slow cooker and melt on high. Rinse the legs under cold water and pat dry. Once the fat has melted, carefully add the legs and cook at a simmer. (Monitor the heat and lower it if the fat is creating more than one or two bubbles every minute.)
Cook until the meat is very tender and pulls away to expose the bones, about 4 hours. Remove the legs from the fat and serve immediately or place on a wire rack to cool. Once the legs and fat have cooled, the legs can be returned to the fat and stored in the refrigerator for several weeks. To use the confit, remove it from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature until the fat has become liquid, about 1 hour.