Confit: Preserved in Fat

Confit: Preserved in Fat

Thousands of years ago, humankind learned pretty fast that if you didn’t preserve meat it went off pretty fast — and you got sick. Or dead.

Preserving meat can happen through various means, but among the most delicious is confit. The word itself is from the French confire, to make or to preserve. Cooks a long, long time ago learned about burying and thus preserving well-salted and cooked meat beneath a thick, rich, solid layer of fat.

Confit is both a method and a dish — confit duck legs or breast. It is a particular favourite method, traditionally, in southern France which likely began as a way of preserving pork: slaughter and preservation of a pig in the autumn would yield food for the next several months. That was the rhythm of survival.

Confit duck at Rundles, Stratford (Photo: WREats).

Confit duck at Rundles, Stratford (Photo: WREats).

Historically, a possible (and mythic) interconnection is that the popularity of foie gras in 19th century came to be as a unintended result of force-feeding geese and ducks so that they would get fat and plump for confit preparation.

Unlike deep-frying which is a very hot, almost violent cooking method, confit is a low and slow method — perhaps 200-degrees in the oven or even less. When ready for service, the cook grabs a confited (the noun has become a verb too) leg or breast, sears it in a pan and finishes it the oven. Delicious!

As do many area restaurants, Cambridge’s Elixir Bistro (Galt) in the heart of downtown serves a duck confit with braised beans, a bit of house-made garlic sausage, vegetables and a pineapple chutney.

[ Image: WREats ]
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