Weekend Cooking: Make Confit!

Why not make confit at home? Aim high, we say! Besides, long before confit became synonymous with fine dining, making confit was a common way for home cooks to preserve meat for extended periods of time without refrigeration. It's not just for meat, though; you can make delicious vegetable confits too, good for flavoring many dishes.Have you ever made confit at home?
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What is Confit?

Meat confit is made from meat that has been salt-cured for a few days, slowly cooked in melted fat (usually the fat from the animal itself), and then sealed in fat to preserve it. The result is an incredibly tender and flavorful meat similar to slow-cooked ribs or pulled pork. Surprisingly, despite being cooked and preserved in fat, the meat doesn't end up greasy.

You can make confit out of any meat you like, but duck, goose, and rabbit are the most common.

A Few Recipes to Get You Started

Making confit is more of a technique than a recipe, but here are a few recipes for basic ratios, cooking times, and spice mixes:

Duck Confit from Epicurious
Duck Confit from Cookthink
Chicken Confit from Mark Bittman

If you're interested in making a non-meat confit, try this one here:

Recipe: Fennel, Lemon and Garlic Confit

Basic Steps for a Meat Confit

1. Salt all the meat being made into confit quite heavily and refrigerate for at least a day. The salt seasons the meat and starts curing it for longer preservation. You can also add a dry spice rub for extra flavor.

2. Melt enough fat to cover all of the meat. Rinse the salt rub off the meat, pat it dry, and add it to the pan with the melted fat. You can cook the meat on the stove top or in the oven. Either way you should just see a few occasional bubbles coming up to the surface and the fat should stay around 190°. Cook slowly for several hours until the meat is tender enough to pull easily from the bone.

3. Let the meat cool to room temperature while still in the fat. Transfer the meat into a container for long-term storage and cover with the melted fat. The fat should completely cover the meat. This can be refrigerated for several weeks. The flavor will continue to improve with age.

Health Advisory!

There is a small risk of botulism when making confit. This risk is minimal if you use the confit within a week. For longer preservation, the risk is lowered if you salt the meat again after cooking and before refrigeration, and also if you keep the confit stored at at least 40°. Make sure your utensils and storage container are all sterile.

How to Use Confit?

When you're ready to use your confit, set it in a pan of warm water until the fat is softened. Remove the meat and wipe off excess fat. (The fat can be reused for cooking.)

You can re-heat whole pieces of confit and serve them as a main course. The skin becomes incredibly crispy while the meat stays moist and flavorful. Since the meat is so rich, confit is best paired with lighter side-dishes like salads or steamed vegetables.

You can also remove the meat from the bones and chop it into smaller pieces. This meat can be used in cassoulet, ravioli, green salads, risotto, or pasta sauces.

Ready to try making it yourself? What are some of your favorite uses for confit?

Related: Word of Mouth: Rillettes

(Images: Flickr members ddaarryynn and Allan Thinks licensed under Creative Commons)

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