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eG Cook-Off #64: Confit


David Ross
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Confit was crafted light years before there was modern refrigeration that would keep foods fresh and safe from bacteria and so other means of preserving foods were necessary. Salt being one of the basic methods. The history behind having the meat suspended in congealed fat was to act as both a preserving agent but more importantly to act as a barrier to ward off bacteria.

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I'm far from having a background in food science, but from what I've learned, hardened fat is more impenetrable to bacteria and a liquid form of oil could still welcome bacteria.

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In the context of true confit and lengthy preservation, saturated fat (solid at room temperature) is stable and resistant to rancidity which makes it better for preservation.

HIstorically, saltpeter also played a roll in inhibiting rancidity.

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~Martin :)

I just don't want to look back and think "I could have eaten that."

Unsupervised, rebellious, radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, and adventurous cook. Crotchety, cantankerous, terse curmudgeon, non-conformist, and contrarian who questions everything!

The best thing about a vegetable garden is all the meat you can hunt and trap out of it!

 

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I typically use fresh duck hindquarters for my Confit, but unfortunately the local Asian market no longer carries them. They were priced for the cook, usually no more than $1.99 a pound, far less than the per pound cost of a whole duck, butchering not included. So a new adventure began substituting chicken hindquarters.

This is the recipe that I developed about 15 years ago and it never disappoints-

4 duck, (or chicken), hindquarters

Kosher salt

1 tbsp. juniper berries, crushed

3 sprigs fresh rosemary

4 springs fresh thyme

4 fresh sage leaves, torn

3 dried bay leaves, crushed

8 cloves garlic, smashed

Fresh ground black pepper

Pork lard, (takes about 1 to 1 1/2 64oz. buckets, depending on size of pot and poultry)

I'll take this opportunity to bring up a pet peeve. I prefer the flavor and aroma of dried bay leaves over fresh, but the stuff in bottles is for the most part terrible. Look into a bottle of dried bay leaves and if they are brown, do not buy it, it's an expensive waste of a wonderful herb. I buy fresh bay leaves and dry them at home for about a week, then crush them to release the flavor. The fragrance of fresh juniper berries adds a wondrous perfume to Confit and reminds me of Central Oregon and many successful hunts for wild mallard.

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The chicken goes into a large dish and is liberally salted on both sides-

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Now the herb mixture is spread over the chicken along with garlic and a hearty dose of black pepper-

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A Le Creuset pot starts over a low heat on the stovetop to melt the lard, then the chicken is pushed down into the pan and additional lard is added to cover-

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Into a 200 degree oven for six hours. Some recipes call for letting the Confit cook on the stovetop just below a simmer. Cooking it in the oven sounds a bit dangerous since oven temperatures vary and one worries that the pot with boil over, but at 200 I've never had a problem. Once out of the oven I let the Confit cool to room temperature then into the fridge. I usually can't wait long to eat Confit, but I made three batches this time and I plan to taste each one over the span of about two months to see if aging adds an additional layer of flavor.

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When I started our Confit journey, I totally forgot that during our Banh Mi Cook-Off last summer, (http://forums.egullet.org/topic/143083-cook-off-60-banh-mi/page-3), I had combined the French technique of Confit with the Vietnamese elements of this delicious sandwich. Thanks to a recipe from Thomas Keller, this is absolutely my favorite way to prepare pork. The result is incredibly tender, juicy meat with a crackling, caramelized crust.

I buy fresh pork belly at the local Asian market, but I'm particular in choosing the thickest, meatiest slab I can find, (otherwise you're just buying pork belly fat). Like the chicken confit that is currently in my refrigerator, the Pork Belly Confit takes time, starting with brining a nice fat pork belly overnight. The brine is a mixture of honey, bay leaves, rosemary, thyme, parsley, garlic and black peppercorns. I find all of Keller's brine recipes too salty for my tastes, (he uses a ratio of 8 cups water to 1 cup Kosher salt), so I cut the salt in half for the amount of water. Sometimes I add juniper berries or lavendar to the brine-

Pork Confit 1.png

One important part of this recipe is to leave the "rind" or outer layer of skin on the pork belly until the final stages of cooking. In some dishes I'll cut the skin off, akin to removing the skin off a salmon. The pork belly is put in the LeCreuset pot and covered with lard, then into a 200 oven to poach in the fat for 6 hours-

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And out of the oven-

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Placed in a heavy casserole dish and covered with the strained cooking fat-

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And the chilled fat encasing the meat, then covered and refrigerated-

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I let the Pork Belly cure for about a week before removing it from the fat. When I looked at this beauty I sort of lost my breath, this is starting to look very good-

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At this stage I took a sharp filet knife and removed that outer tough skin leaving a thick layer of tender fat. Then the Pork Belly was cut into cubes for the final cooking-

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The chunks of Pork Belly are sauteed in a hot skillet to crisp the skin-

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And then finally put in the Banh Mi sandwich-

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The method of making the Pork Belly Confit was traditional but I learned during that

Cook-Off that this style of pork is not traditional in a Banh Mi. It may have been an unusual marriage but it worked.

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Yesterday I took some off cuts of pork from the freezer and prepped then two different ways. One was seasoned with five spice and one with New Mexico chili rub. Both mixes were from Worldspice in Seattle. They were vacuum bagged overnight then cooked in rendered pork fat today. The pork was a locally purchased Tamworth that I bought last fall and butchered. I cooked some small turnips along with the pork in the hot five spice oil and they tasted great.

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Dinner was Confit Five Spice Pork, Potatoes Anna with Oyster Mushrooms. The confit turnips were with served with a mix of turnip and radish greens cooked with homemade tasso.

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Today at work I used duck confit.

The dish is SousVide duck breast over banana flavored lentils, confit, creme fraiche, and with arugula pesto.

The duck legs are cured with salt, citrus zest, and an in-house spice blend (mostly coriander seed and fennel seed) then poached in duck fat for 4 hrs.

The bananas get browned in butter before the rest is added. Pesto on top. Very tasty.

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Yesterday I took some off cuts of pork from the freezer and prepped then two different ways. One was seasoned with five spice and one with New Mexico chili rub. Both mixes were from Worldspice in Seattle. They were vacuum bagged overnight then cooked in rendered pork fat today. The pork was a locally purchased Tamworth that I bought last fall and butchered. I cooked some small turnips along with the pork in the hot five spice oil and they tasted great.

attachicon.gifP1020253(1).JPG

attachicon.gifP1020256(1).JPG

Dinner was Confit Five Spice Pork, Potatoes Anna with Oyster Mushrooms. The confit turnips were with served with a mix of turnip and radish greens cooked with homemade tasso.

attachicon.gifP1020260(1).JPG

That is one amazing dish. I'm intrigued by the use of the five-spice and I may use that in a duck confit I plan to do and make into spring rolls.

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Today at work I used duck confit.

The dish is SousVide duck breast over banana flavored lentils, confit, creme fraiche, and with arugula pesto.

The duck legs are cured with salt, citrus zest, and an in-house spice blend (mostly coriander seed and fennel seed) then poached in duck fat for 4 hrs.

The bananas get browned in butter before the rest is added. Pesto on top. Very tasty.

Those are interesting flavors. Tell us about the banana and how the sweetness worked with the duck.

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I recently did a wild canada goose confit (12 hours at 80C). Terrific flavour, but still pretty tough. Has anyone experimented with even longer cooking times? Can you overcook confit?

I am thinking of courting heresy by cooking the cured legs in a pressure cooker and applying the fat afterwards.

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Martin Mallet

<i>Poor but not starving student</i>

www.malletoyster.com

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Today at work I used duck confit.

The dish is SousVide duck breast over banana flavored lentils, confit, creme fraiche, and with arugula pesto.

The duck legs are cured with salt, citrus zest, and an in-house spice blend (mostly coriander seed and fennel seed) then poached in duck fat for 4 hrs.

The bananas get browned in butter before the rest is added. Pesto on top. Very tasty.

Those are interesting flavors. Tell us about the banana and how the sweetness worked with the duck.

The sweetness of the bananas gets toned down with their caramelization and the earthiness of the lentils. The confit offers richness and depth. Creme fraiche pulls it all together and allows it to stand up on the plate.

The slight bitterness of the arugula is a good foil.

Pared with a French viognier it's an unexpected success.

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I guess this dish is on the boundary of confit-confiture. Royal red shrimp dusted with kashmiri curry and poached in olive oil with satsuma preserves, preserved lemons, and fennel.

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Oh, my my my! :wub:

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Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
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Tonight I served some of the first batch of Chicken Confit that I started curing about two weeks ago.

The final preparation of the dish started with melting the fat over a low heat on the stovetop-

Confit Cook-Off 006.JPG

Then gently, very gently, the chicken quarters are removed from the fat and placed on a rack over a cookie sheet to heat in a searing-hot 550 oven for about 15 minutes-

Confit Cook-Off 012.JPG

A closeup of what this silky, lush, bird looks like after being suspended in pork lard for two weeks, (and it gets better)-

Confit Cook-Off 017.JPG

After heating through and crisping the skin until it crackles, the chicken confit is finished. Served with a salad of spinach and red chard dressed with mustard, hazelnut oil, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice and olive oil with a garnish of toasted pecans. I chose to go simple tonight with a salad dressed with tangy, citrus and fruit notes to counter the rich, salty profile of the confit with a bit of sweet crunch added with the pecans-

Confit Cook-Off 025.JPG

Confit Cook-Off 022.JPG

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Tonight I served some of the first batch of Chicken Confit that I started curing about two weeks ago.

The final preparation of the dish started with melting the fat over a low heat on the stovetop-

attachicon.gifConfit Cook-Off 006.JPG

Then gently, very gently, the chicken quarters are removed from the fat and placed on a rack over a cookie sheet to heat in a searing-hot 550 oven for about 15 minutes-

attachicon.gifConfit Cook-Off 012.JPG

A closeup of what this silky, lush, bird looks like after being suspended in pork lard for two weeks, (and it gets better)-

attachicon.gifConfit Cook-Off 017.JPG

After heating through and crisping the skin until it crackles, the chicken confit is finished. Served with a salad of spinach and red chard dressed with mustard, hazelnut oil, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice and olive oil with a garnish of toasted pecans. I chose to go simple tonight with a salad dressed with tangy, citrus and fruit notes to counter the rich, salty profile of the confit with a bit of sweet crunch added with the pecans-

attachicon.gifConfit Cook-Off 025.JPG

attachicon.gifConfit Cook-Off 022.JPG

David, you have convinced me that chicken is worth the effort! Will be attempting this very soon. Thank you for sharing. I'll be doing it sous-vide of course.
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Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

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Thank you. I am going to chill some of it in the fridge and take it to work for lunch tommorrow. I can only imagine what the other employees will think. Chicken? Confit?

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[]David Ross when I saw your pork confit I lost my breath too. May I ask which Keller book this is from? I don't seem to recall seeing the recipe.

There is no love more sincere than the love of food - George Bernard Shaw
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Tonight I served some of the first batch of Chicken Confit that I started curing about two weeks ago.

The final preparation of the dish started with melting the fat over a low heat on the stovetop-

attachicon.gifConfit Cook-Off 006.JPG

Then gently, very gently, the chicken quarters are removed from the fat and placed on a rack over a cookie sheet to heat in a searing-hot 550 oven for about 15 minutes-

attachicon.gifConfit Cook-Off 012.JPG

A closeup of what this silky, lush, bird looks like after being suspended in pork lard for two weeks, (and it gets better)-

attachicon.gifConfit Cook-Off 017.JPG

After heating through and crisping the skin until it crackles, the chicken confit is finished. Served with a salad of spinach and red chard dressed with mustard, hazelnut oil, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice and olive oil with a garnish of toasted pecans. I chose to go simple tonight with a salad dressed with tangy, citrus and fruit notes to counter the rich, salty profile of the confit with a bit of sweet crunch added with the pecans-

attachicon.gifConfit Cook-Off 025.JPG

attachicon.gifConfit Cook-Off 022.JPG

Beautiful job on the chicken. I've confit chickens leg before but I always had trouble with the skin tearing. I guess I'll try the "gently, very gently" approach again.

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[]David Ross when I saw your pork confit I lost my breath too. May I ask which Keller book this is from? I don't seem to recall seeing the recipe.

Thanks. You'll find the recipe in Keller's "ad hoc at home."

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Yes, it was a very delicate task to gently remove the chicken quarters from the fat with the skin tearing, let alone the bones slip out. And I've found chicken skin to be much thinner than the skin of a duck.

Tonight I'm going to do a pasta dish using the chicken confit but without the skin so I won't have to worry about the darn thing falling apart.

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Another thought came to mind yesterday--this week all manner of turkeys are on sale, organic, free-range, butterball, fresh or frozen. It's probably the best time of the year to buy turkey for confit. But I wonder, could you make Confit from leftover turkey? Or, since the turkey is already cooked are you basically defeating the purpose of the Confit process?

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