Whole Duck Jambalaya with Confit Duck Legs

A savory main course to star on your fall table—plus a resource for mail-order duck

Photo: copyright © 2022 by Aubrie Pick

“Jambalaya is a Southern favorite that’s a direct descendant of West African jollof rice,” writes Tanya Holland in her new cookbook, Tanya Holland’s California Soul: Recipes from a Culinary Journey West, which explores her family’s migration from the South and celebrates the multigenerational food traditions the California chef has maintained and modified. “Africans from Senegal and Sierra Leone were enslaved and brought to the Carolina coast and the Georgia Sea Islands to cultivate rice in America. By the 1800s, rice was a dominant crop in California, and it’s still prevalent today. I love buying local whenever possible and fortunately, Liberty Duck Farms is right ‘up the street’ in Sonoma County. Their ducks are raised sustainably, and luckily, the company ships nationally.”


  • Whole Duck Jambalaya with Confit Duck Legs (Yield: 6 servings)

    • 1 whole duck

    • 1 tbsp. salt

    • 4 garlic cloves

    • 2 bay leaves

    • 6 sprigs fresh thyme

    • 3 cups duck fat, melted

    • 1 small yellow onion, diced

    • 2 stalks celery, chopped

    • 1 bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and chopped

    • 2 tsp. Creole seasoning

    • 2 garlic cloves, chopped

    • 1 cup chopped tomatoes (optional)

    • 2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

    • 1 tsp. Louisiana-style hot sauce

    • 2 cups long-grain white rice

    • 4 cups chicken broth

    • 2 scallions, thinly sliced


  1. Make the confit: Remove the legs from the duck. Carefully cut the breasts from the duck and trim off excess fat. Cover the duck breasts and refrigerate. Sprinkle the duck legs with salt all over and place them in a small baking pan. 

  2. In a food processor, combine the garlic, bay leaves, and thyme and process until finely chopped. Rub the herb mixture over the duck legs to evenly coat them. Cover the pan and refrigerate overnight. 

  3. Preheat the oven to 250°F. Remove the pan of duck legs from the refrigerator. Pour the melted duck fat over the legs so it submerges them. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake until the legs are cooked and tender, about 3 hours. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature. 

  4. Pull the meat off the bones, discarding the skin and bones but reserving some of the liquid fat. Roughly chop the meat and set aside.

  5. Make the jambalaya: Heat 2 tbsp. of the reserved duck fat in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, bell pepper, and Creole seasoning and cook until tender but not brown, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic, tomatoes if using, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the rice, broth, and the reserved duck confit. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook until the rice is tender, about 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and let sit, still covered, for 10 minutes.

  6. Meanwhile, cook the duck breasts. Carefully cut diagonal lines every ½ inch across the fat without cutting down to the meat. Then cut lines in the opposite direction to make a diamond pattern. Season both sides of both duck breasts with salt and pepper. Place the duck breasts in a cold cast-iron pan, fat-side down.

  7. Turn the heat on low and let the breasts cook without moving them as the fat renders out, 12 to 15 minutes. Once the fat is deep golden brown and most of it has been rendered, raise the heat to medium-high, turn the breasts over, and cook for 2 to 4 minutes, just until browned and the temperature reaches 130°F on an instant-read thermometer.

  8. Remove the duck breasts from the heat and let sit for 10 minutes.

  9. Stir in all but 2 tbsp. of the scallions into the jambalaya. Slice the duck breasts and place on top of the jambalaya. Sprinkle with the remaining scallions.

Reprinted with permission from Tanya Holland’s California Soul: Recipes from a Culinary Journey West by Tanya Holland, published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House. Text copyright © 2022 by Tanya Holland.