A Tasty Long Con
September 25, 2023 11:12 PM   Subscribe

As the year turns to fall, (it'll be a chilly 85°F for me tomorrow) it's time to think about preserving a larder for the long cold winter. And while you can think about your pickles, your preserves and canned goods for days, let's look instead at the French technique of "confit".

At its most basic - confit is salted meat cooked in a low slow oven, submerged in a bath of fat - usually in the rendered fat of the same critter. Over hours, the cooking process breaks down the proteins and yields a succulent, flavorful and rich dish from tougher cuts of the animal. Perfect with a salad and roasted potatoes (cooked in duck fat, perhaps?).

The term is also used for preserving fruits cooked in a sugar syrup, but we'll save that for a sweeter time

Both techniques eliminate bacteria and then preserve the food in an anerobic environment rendering the food safe for storage. (Historically, pre-refrigeration cellar storage, but these days with a better understanding of botulism spores - keep it in your fridge)

And then naturally a whole bunch of other things have become confit!

(This whole post follows my usual #recipefilter habit of being woefully incomplete, short sighted and missing a bunch of other preserved meat/vegetable/fruit in oil/sugar/salt from lots of places that aren't French. This post inspired by me forgetting some chiekn thighs in the fridge and needing a way to prolong their usefulness!)

J Kenji Lopez-Alt's Guide to Confit- What the Heck is Confit"

The classic - Confit de Canard (Duck Confit) - traditionalists will say that "confit" as a dish refers to waterfowl like duck and goose)

Naturally people do this with other meats:
Ways to Enjoy a Confit Meat:
  • Seared - take the meat from the fat, pat it dry and sear it in rocket hot cast iron - serve with something tangy and something hearty
  • Shredded - mixed into salad with a tangy dressing or....
  • Rillettes - the fanciest of potted meats
  • Cassoulet - for a cold weekend when you have plenty of time to cook - the ultimate bean stew

Vegetable Confit - usually cooked in a bath of olive oil into something decadent
  • Eggplant - because that recipe in Ratatouille had to start somewhere!
  • Garlic - roasted garlic's slower cousin that makes everything better
  • Mushroom - I will eat all the mushrooms and these are delcious
  • Potato - Either "humble" or Fancy" - My tip, confit Yukon Gold slices in olive oil, with garlic and rosemary and use them on a pizza with ricotta
  • Onion - onion jam "plussed up" (try Leeks)
  • Root Vegetable Medley - beets, parsnips, carrots, fennel and whatever you want
  • Tomato - in this case a cheaters way of keeping tomatoes going with cherry tomatoes - many preparations are simply sundried/dehydrated tomatoes cooked and stored in olive oil
Other Savory Confit Preps
  • Confit Buffalo Chicken Wings - Kenji loves his chicken wings!
  • Egg Yolks Confit
  • Sous Vide Confit - and here's why I started collecting the confit mayhem. I bought a bunch of chicken thighs on sale and need to preserve half. I salted and seasoned them overnight before bagging in a vacuum bag with slices of orange, rosemary, bay leaf, thyme, black pepper and olive oil. I let them cook, chilled and stowed them in the fridge (and freezer). When it came time to serve, I warmed them up slightly to loosen the oil, patted them dry and seared the skin side and flipped for a few minutes. Best damn on sale chicken thighs ever!
posted by drewbage1847 (27 comments total) 53 users marked this as a favorite
Amazing, I want to try all of these. Fruit "confits" are delicious too.
posted by hermanubis at 12:09 AM on September 26 [1 favorite]

I have, pretty successfully, used lamb shoulder offcuts, carefully separating the meat from the fat, and then slow roasting it in the rendered fat. I have also made awarma, which is delicious but basically a heart attack in a jar.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 12:25 AM on September 26

Mod note: drewbage1847, it looks like the "humble" link is missing; let us know where it should go and we can fix!
posted by taz (staff) at 12:32 AM on September 26 [1 favorite]

(IMO the side dish you want is persillade which is basically French home fries, and a green salad with some bright bitter greens)
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 12:44 AM on September 26 [1 favorite]

This all looks delicious! Thanks for posting.
posted by mumimor at 12:57 AM on September 26

I like to do confit turkey wings for small-scale turkey dinners during the fall and winter. Turkey wings are dirt cheap (I find them frozen) and have a surprising amount of meat on them. Vegetable oil works fine, and you can fill up empty spaces in your casserole with carved down sections of sweet potato or whatever, although the wings do layer conveniently in my pot so I only need maybe 500cl of oil, which is of course reusable anyway. You get a nice gelatinized layer of stock base as a bonus for making gravy and stuffing. (Stuff a nice eating pumpkin! Works a treat! Great presentation! And can be made vegan or whatever! Smokes nicely too if you have the means!)
The deboned cooked meat can get crisped up in a skillet before serving. Plan this right and you can totally have a weeknight turkey dinner.
posted by St. Oops at 1:18 AM on September 26 [5 favorites]

I did confit garlic for the first time in the air fryer recently, and it worked perfectly. I've got an oven-style air fryer with a big lid that lifts up (not the basket kind), and I put two heads' worth of garlic cloves in a smaller loaf pan, added oil to cover, and ran the air fryer for about 45mins at its lowest temperature setting (150C/300F). Came out delicious. Made a ton of garlic bread and added extra garlicky depth to dal makhni with it.
posted by terretu at 2:22 AM on September 26


Ottolenghi test kitchen - confit tandoori chickpeas
posted by Pre-Taped Call In Show at 3:11 AM on September 26 [6 favorites]

I have done the Thomas Keller sous vide confit duck legs. They take a little bit of planning but almost no effort and the result is spectacular.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 3:26 AM on September 26 [1 favorite]

I have not made confit but I have liked it when I have eaten it. I also like rillette, which I believe is basically very similar except in terms of texture. I didn't know that there was such a thing as a vegetable confit, but those look very tasty.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:42 AM on September 26

I know this is about confit, but since you mentioned pickling, I want to mention a recent announcement that some vinegars being sold are 4% concentration, not 5%, which means many recipes won't result in safe food!
Recipes provided by the National Center for Home Food Preservation (abbreviated as NCHFP) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have all been tested and proven safe while using vinegar with 5% acidity. Using vinegars with less than 5% acidity are not recommended, because it may not provide enough acid to produce a safe and shelf-stable product.
The Complete Guide to Home Canning is very thorough, and the NCHFP's blog is pretty good.

OK, now back to confit: in his weighty tome On Food and Cooking, Harold McGee writes of the word confit:
These days the word confit is used loosely to describe just about anything cooked slowly and gently to a rich, succulent consistency: onions in olive oil, for example, or shrimp cooked and stored under clarified butter. In fact the term is a fairly inclusive one. It comes via the French verb confire, from the Latin conficere, meaning “to do, to produce, to make, to prepare.” The French verb was first applied in medieval times to fruits cooked and preserved in sugar syrup or honey (hence French confiture and English confection) or in alcohol. Later it was applied to vegetables pickled in vinegar, olives in oil, various foods in salt, and meats under fat.
(Emphasis mine.)
posted by wenestvedt at 6:20 AM on September 26 [8 favorites]

> it'll be a chilly 85°F for me tomorrow

It'll be a chilly 94ºF for me today.
posted by smcdow at 7:40 AM on September 26

This is what happens when you post just before you conk out because your partner gave you her cold! The humble link should go here
posted by drewbage1847 at 7:42 AM on September 26

Mod note: Fixed the 'humble' link, thanks!
posted by Brandon Blatcher (staff) at 7:50 AM on September 26 [1 favorite]

confit Yukon Gold slices in olive oil, with garlic and rosemary and use them on a pizza with ricotta

when I decide to OD on carbs, this will be the way
posted by superelastic at 8:40 AM on September 26 [3 favorites]

when I decide to OD on carbs, this will be the way
I highly recommend it. Smash the garlic into a paste and mix with the ricotta (along with a hefty cracking of black pepper). Spread out your dough, dot the crust with the ricotta mix. Layer with the potatoes - shingle for a super dense potatoey experience, loose for more crusty potato pizza vibe. Sprinkle with a generous amount of salt and parm, drizzle with the olive oil from before and a sprinkling of chopped rosemary. Bake until done and then hit the hot pie with a little more oil, salt and minced parsley.

I usually do this with Kenji's Cast Iron Pan Pizza recipe where the dough gets to be a bit fried and reminds you of the excitement you felt when redeeming your Book It! points, but about 1000x better tasting.
posted by drewbage1847 at 9:06 AM on September 26 [5 favorites]

The Ottolenghi Test Kitchen chickpeas have become part of our regular rotation. Totally a pantry dish that can be made quickly. The only thing that takes a bit a time is smashing a head of garlic. We’ll make a double batch and freeze.
posted by misterpatrick at 9:14 AM on September 26 [2 favorites]

What better to cut through all that fat than something spicy! With pepper season in full swing here in the Midwest make some Lacto-fermented hot sauce. Nothing could be easier. Take a big mason jar and fill with chopped up chilis, onion, garlic, ginger, citrus, carrot and whatever else you have around. Cover with water and weigh it (tare the jar). Strain out the water and add 3% salt to the water and pour back into the peppers. Lightly cover with a release lid or cheese cloth and let sit on the counter for two to three weeks. Strain and blend adding the brine back to get the consistency you want. If you want it shelf stable boil and add some vinegar otherwise just keep in the fridge.
posted by misterpatrick at 9:38 AM on September 26 [3 favorites]

I have made confit garlic perhaps four times now? and it is fast becoming a fridge staple. I use it instead of regular garlic in almost all dishes and it is delicious - like regular garlic's richer, softer, grown up sibling.
posted by In Your Shell Like at 11:39 AM on September 26 [1 favorite]

Your chicken thigh sous vide-confit idea there at the end of the post sounds quite good. I know chicken thighs are a more economical option, but frankly I generally just don't prefer them - that method sounds like it might persuade me otherwise.
posted by dnash at 5:04 PM on September 26 [1 favorite]

The cassoulet at Le Pichet ... how my lazy autumnal afternoons miss you both.
posted by MonsieurPEB at 5:29 PM on September 26

I first had pork rillettes about a decade ago, and I fell in love. Spread across a little hunk of crispy toasted french bread, it's like a little dollop of heaven. I mean, it's essentially pork butter. Now I make them every year for Christmas/New Years, and it's absurd how easy it is to make.

I don't do them confit, though. I used the Ruhlman/Polcyn recipe, which calls for simmering them in stock, then sealing the ramekins with lard. One fun little by-product is that you can keep the broth that drains off, and freeze it for the next batch, and the next, and the next. I think the little ziplock in the freezer is something like the seventh generation of broth, and something like 50% pork gelatin at this point. Mmm, pork butter.
posted by Ghidorah at 7:13 PM on September 26 [1 favorite]

Sounds great to me! The nice thing about confit and other sort of "rustic" preservation things - they're not hard to do, you just need to have the foresight to do them ahead of time.
posted by drewbage1847 at 7:26 PM on September 26

I used to get rillettes all the time at a little wine bar in SF. That and the cheese board, and you'd be set for an evening, though not quite a meal, and better shared anyway. A few blocks away is/was a Frenchish restaurant where I had duck leg in confit form, and it was goood.
posted by rhizome at 1:10 AM on September 27 [1 favorite]

ya'll my cold has gotten the best of me. I want a pot of cassoulet, but all I can mange the energy for is a half eaten open sleeve of saltines.
posted by drewbage1847 at 6:07 PM on September 27

I've found to be able to make passable confit in a slow cooker.

Two liters of rendered duck fat over three batches gives me 8 duck legs and a dozen (not giant) turkey drumsticks.

The legs go into a ziplock bag with a little fat. The drumstick meat falls off the bone and fits into a canning jar (with a little fat) for a "meat hand grenade." Both will keep in the freezer indefinitely. I found a 4 year old leg in the back of my freezer and it was fine.

A put a little extra fat in there so I have the option to fry potatoes or vegetables in some. The meat gets pan fried; the skin can even crisp up.
posted by porpoise at 7:23 PM on September 27 [4 favorites]

Hey, this thread has been added to the Best Of Metafilter blog and various social media sites!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:29 AM on September 30 [1 favorite]

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