The Genius of Confit

Confit (French) (pronounced "Con-fee") is a generic term for various kinds of food that have been immersed in a substance for both flavor and preservation. Sealed and stored in a cool place, confit can last for several months. Confit is one of the oldest ways to preserve food, and is a speciality of southwestern France.

Confit is a technique of preserving food. The most popular and widely known is duck confit. The process is a little time consuming but the end result is divine. Anything can be preserved using the confit method and it can turn a normally useless item into something you crave. Recently I spent some time making duck legs, frog legs and pigs ears confit. The method is fairly simple, first you rub the item you are using in a salt and herb mixture to cover the item. In this instance I was using duck legs.

After the legs were salted I covered them with saran wrap and placed them in the refrigerator for 24-48 hours. I usually let them sit for the whole 48 hours so they absorb all the flavors. For the duck legs I used a combination of salt, thyme, cloves, black pepper, bay leaves and garlic. You can find the recipe in Michael Ruhlman's fantastic book Charcuterie. After the legs have sat for 48 hours they need to be rinsed completely of all salt and seasonings. Once rinsed pat them dry and place them in a heavy oven proof pan and cover completely in duck fat. There are a lot of Internet sources for duck fat or you can find it at specialty butchers, Clancey's in Minneapolis is my source. They sell the fat whole so it needs to be rendered.

Once the legs are covered in fat you put them in the oven for 6-8 hours at 225 degrees. When they are all done the skin will have pulled away from the knuckle and you will end up with very tender, remarkably flavorful duck legs that you can do anything you want with.

If you intend on storing them long term you simple place them in a container cover them in fat and place in the refrigerator. The fat is solid at room temperature and seals the meat in. My Favorite thing to do with duck confit is to place it in the oven skin side up on 400 for 10-12 minutes until the skin is nice and crisp. Then eat the skin and shred the duck meat. Serve the meat with a crusty bread, brie, and a fruit preserve of some sort. I really like red currant jelly or blueberry pepper jelly.

When I put together this batch of duck confit I also made some confit frogs legs and some confit pigs ears. The pigs ears recipe came out of Michael Symon's new book Live to Cook, after the ears are confit you cut them into bite size piece's and fry them. I served the ears with some pickled vegetables and some cheese's that I had picked up. It was fantastic even my wife who would never eat such a thing really enjoyed the pig's ears.

As for the frog's legs, I have something special planned for them. I am going to make Frog leg confit ravioli with a crayfish bourbon cream sauce. I will let you know if it turns out. If you have some free time and can find the ingredients necessary, the confit method is a fantastic way to go. Give it a try.