CONFIT DUCK and GARLIC

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DUCK AND GARLIC CONFIT

Whether it be duck, goose or garlic—chances are, you’ve heard the word “confit” before. According to “  The Food Lover’s Companion: Comprehensive Definitions of Over 4000 Food, Wine and Culinary Terms  " by Sharon Tyler Herbst, confit is “derived from an ancient method of preserving meat (usually goose, duck or pork) whereby it is salted and slowly cooked in its own fat.”

This method of preservation dates back to prehistoric times, and was typically used during the winter months to ensure a proper amount of food was stored.

The duck version, a favorite in France’s Gascony region, is prepared by taking duck legs and cooking them in duck fat at a low temperature for several hours. Once cooked, the meat is packed in a tightly-sealed container and covered with rendered duck fat, and can be kept in the refrigerator for several weeks. 

The meat is versatile—eaten as is, shredded and then tossed into salads or stews, or even blended with more rendered duck fat to make a spreadable rillette. (Calories be damned.)Vegetables can also be preserved this way; confit garlic and tomatoes are upheld and celebrated by chefs far and wide.

A favorite method of preparing meat in pre-fridge France was to preserve it in its own fat. It's similar to maceration, but instead of infusing booze with fruit, you're infusing meat with fat and flavor. Harmful bacteria can't thrive in dense fat, so historically, confit didn't have to be chilled to stay fresh. That said, please refrigerate your duck confit because we no longer live in medieval France.

The legs and thighs are the fattiest portions of the bird and therefore the ones you want to use. Allowing the legs to sit overnight or longer with herbs imparts more flavor into the meat and fat. Since the meat will be hanging out in the fat for a nice long time as it slowly cooks, it's worth it to seek out high-quality fresh herbs. Now is not the time to reach in the back of the spice drawer for that dusty jar of rosemary or pine needles, you're not sure which one. That's right, we can see into your kitchen. 

Once your confit is finished, it'll keep for up to six months (refrigerated — again, don't challenge nature's generosity) and the leftover duck fat can be re-used for frying potatoes, eggs, plantains and (our personal favorite), making popcorn.    

You too can elevate home cooking with the confit method—it’s fairly simple. Place peeled whole garlic cloves in a small saucepan, cover with either rendered duck fat or blended olive oil and bring to medium heat. When the pot begins to simmer, reduce the heat to low and cook until the garlic becomes soft and tender. The end result—well worth the wait—can be used in various sauces, as a base for dips or dressings, or even tossed on top of a pizza.


GARLIC CONFIT 

Garlic confit is a  special sauce.  It’s a play on an old technique (preserving meat in its own fat) and a venerable French dish (duck confit). You can use the same fancy term to cook and preserve garlic in essentially the same way. Except, here, olive oil is the fat of choice. The technique produces meltingly tender and sweet cloves, along with a by-product of fragrant and delicious oil. It’s magic. 

Now is the perfect time to put this method to work; summer is garlic’s moment. Garlic has been underground since the fall, developing through the spring (an amazing process on its own), and is ready or about ready to be picked (depending on where you live). It is at its sweetest, just pulled from the ground and cured. 

This is the season and the perfect recipe to capture that pure, summer-garlic taste — no bitterness in sight. Use garlic confit to punch up any vegetable dish or to inspire any number of dishes on its own. It will do wonders on any vegetable that only received a simple steaming, grilling, sautéing, or roasting. Smash it, puree it, pulverize it into a paste, or use the cloves on their own. Once you get started, you’ll want to find a way to slip garlic confit into all your meals. (It’s that special.) 


How to Make Garlic Confit

Peel the cloves from 2 heads (or more) of garlic. Place the cloves in a small saucepan and pour in enough olive oil to cover them, 1/2 to 3/4 cup for 2 heads. Over medium heat bring the oil to just a hint of a simmer, then reduce the heat to as low as it can go. You want to poach the garlic, not simmer it. Cook for about 45 minutes, until the garlic is soft and tender, but not falling apart. Transfer the garlic with a slotted spoon to a clean jar and pour the oil in to cover the cloves. 

Cool the mixture to room temperature. Cover the jar tightly and keep refrigerated for several weeks, or freeze for several months. (Keep the cloves covered in oil and be careful about using a clean spoon to dip into the jar). As a variation, add rosemary and/or thyme to the saucepan along with the garlic to cook. 


10 Ways To Use Garlic Confit

  1. Whip a few cloves and some of the infused oil with vinegar to make a vinaigrette. Toss it with delicate greens.
  2. Smash some of the cloves and whisk them with some of the infused oil. Toss the thick garlicky oil with steamed vegetables. (Excellent with asparagus, green beans, snow and snap peas, broccoli, and cauliflower.)
  3. Toss roasted or grilled vegetables with a spoonful of the tender garlic.
  4. Spread the tender cloves over toasted bread or cheese-smeared crostini. (Goat cheese is a great option.) For a composed hors d’oeuvre, garnish the garlic toasts with chives or any fresh herbs.
  5. Layer garlic confit into a sandwich or pizza.
  6. Toss garlic confit into a vegetable pasta. (Just pick a vegetable and pair it with garlic confit and pasta. For an easy option, try fresh tomatoes and basil.)
  7. Whip the tender cloves into any vegetable puree for sweet garlic flavor. (Try garlic confit with a potato, celery root, cauliflower, winter squash, or sunchoke puree.) A whipped chickpea or cannellini bean puree will also benefit from a spoonful of garlic confit.
  8. Make a vegetable and garlic confit salad. Slice the cloves in half and toss them into a tomato, basil, and toasted bread salad. Use some of the oil to sauté corn-off-the-cob just briefly. Toss the corn with sliced or smashed cloves, fresh basil, and feta. (Add zucchini and/or tomatoes to the corn salad if you wish.)
  9. Add garlic confit to sauces and soups.
  10. Use the back of a fork to break down cloves into a paste. Stir the garlic paste into plain Greek yogurt or ricotta to make a creamy garlic dip or condiment. If you wish, add summer herbs to the mixture or drizzle the top with a good olive oil or chili oil.

A Warning About Botulism:
Garlic is an extremely low-acid vegetable. When it is stored improperly in oil (without oxygen) and in warm temperatures (at room temperature), it can produce a very serious toxin that causes the illness botulism. Botulism can be fatal if not treated immediately. It is very important to refrigerate garlic confit, as per the Center for Disease Control. Use a clean jar with a tight seal to store garlic confit; cool the garlic and oil as quickly as possible, and refrigerate it immediately. If you store the preserved garlic properly, it should keep for several months, however, to be completely safe, I recommend only storing it for up to three weeks. If you’re worried, you can also safely freeze garlic confit for several months.