Ask the Butcher: Special Edition – Just A Dash
In episode 5 of Matty Matheson’s Just A Dash, he makes duck confit crepes. They look so good, we immediately started getting questions about making them right after it aired. The following question stuck out since we’re not selling duck. So much so that we’re doing a special edition of Ask the Butcher to answer it.
Q: I like duck confit, but what else can I confit with? I want to fill a winter pantry with staples.
Confit is the just name for the process of cooking meat — any meat — in its own fat. You can cook anything in its own fat—meat or vegetables. It’s a very basic technique and makes for great winter pantry staples.
You submerge the meat in olive oil all the way so you can’t see it. If you have schmaltz, you can use schmaltz. Then you cook on low so the meat holds its integrity, its shape. Cooking in oil or fat this low doesn’t make the meat oily; it makes it very moist. It creates even heat all the way through. Confit is kind of like the OG of sous vide, if you would. When you’re done cooking it looks like a wax model. You can eat it then or you cover it in more fat and store it to use it for later. The result depends on what you’re using to confit, but the texture is generally soft. Some meats come out shred-able.
I like confit chicken thighs. You can do beef—a BBQ beef shred packed in its own rendered fat is layered beef. Mark Bittman confits grilled pork and even octopus.
Boneless skinless chicken thighs are great for people doing a first time confit. In a pan, roast a lot of them in oil with whole garlic cloves and sprigs of herbs, that’s it. Place them covered in the oven at 225 to 250 overnight. If you don’t want the oven on overnight, you can confit during the day. You can also confit in a crock pot. Take them out, chill them, and then put them in a jar with no air in it. Pour in more oil so it covers the thighs. This process preserves the meat. That’s it. Just pull it out to use for stuff later. It doesn’t dry out ever. It’s amazing. It’s like early man’s brown and serve. You have a cooked item you just warm up. Read this if you want to know more about confit.
I love a confit schmear on a cracker. I also love the idea of a packed larder of things that can sit over long periods of time without refrigeration. Jars and cans and even bought canned stuff. Air dried beef and vinegars, preserved lemons. Even pickled eggs. Confit is a great addition: a cooked and stabilized preserved protein. But a larder doesn’t need to mean something out of the Hobbit. You can also just keep stuff in the back or bottom of your fridge if you prefer, like kim chee and miso. I like having all different kinds of flavors to use with so many different things.