Unrecipe of the Week: Confit



Confit is a word that often turns up on restaurant menus, confounding the diner. Simply put, confit, ( pronounced kon- FEE,) means “to preserve,” in French.

Classically pertaining to duck, confit is the process of slowly cooking a food in a liquid that is inhospitable to bacteria growth. With meats and vegetables, it is some form of pure fat. For fruit, it is a concentrated sugar syrup. Once the food is slow cooked in its liquid, it has a shelf, or refrigerator life that is extended.

When food is fried in oil at a high temperature, the result is crisp surface acheived in a short period of time. With a confit, the oil is heated to a much lower temperature, during a longer period of time.

This week, we are making confits from garlic and shallots. These preserved alliums add a mellow flavor to meats and vegetables and the oil they are cooked in add a subtle taste to dressings and sautés.

They are easy to make, and great to have on hand to add dimension to simple week night dishes. While the instructions are interchangeable,we prefer to prepare them separately to keep the flavors pure.


Peel several heads of garlic or shallots and cover them with olive oil so that they are fully submerged with at least  1/2″-1″ of oil on top. For about 2 or 3 pounds of shallots, you will use about 3 cups of oil.  Add several sprigs of fresh herbs, such as thyme or rosemary, and a bay leaf or two, depending on the quantity you are making. Some people like to add a little diced hot peppers to give the confit some heat. Place in a 300 degree oven for about an hour, until the cloves become somewhat brown, but are still very soft. The time it takes to cook will be determined by the quantity. Start taking a look at the 40 minute mark if you making a small amount.

Conversely, this can be done on the stovetop, simmering the oil at a low heat until the garlic or shallots are soft and slightly brown.

Cool, and store in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator until ready to use. The confit should last several weeks and up to 2 months.

Photos: Glasshouse Images

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