This time of year, it’s dark when you get home from work, the temperatures are dropping if it’s not already snowing, and those chilly morning commutes can only mean one thing: sweater weather! Now, the best part of sweater weather is, of course, the knit garment’s ability to camouflage those few extra winter pounds. We're all bundling up in layers, so why worry about your figure? You’re not going to see a swimsuit until spring break anyway. Enjoy this time, it's the season for confit.
Confit refers to a cooking and preservation method and isn’t actually thaaaat unhealthy. Truly. You do more damage with a bowl of cheesy, creamy pasta. But to better explain confit to the uninitiated, here is J. Kenji López-Alt over at the Food Lab on Serious Eats:
"The word confit (pronounced "kon-FEE") derives from the French verb confire, which simply means to preserve. Traditionally, confit simply refers to any sort of preserved food, whether it's meat, fruit, or vegetables. This preservation takes place by slowly cooking food in a liquid that is inhospitable to bacterial growth."
Pretty straightforward, right? Many eaters are already familiar with the most common type of confit, duck leg, which is so delicious you might have purchased a tub of duck fat on Amazon to make your own duck confit. And now, perhaps, you’re wondering what else can you confit? And if you haven't gone that far yet, try confiting something simple, a vegetable maybe, to practice this easy cooking technique. Worst-case scenario: Your whole house will smell incredible.
So throw on a sweater, submerge something in fat, and welcome winter with open (knit) arms!
1. DUCK CONFIT
The classic duck confit is so much easier than you ever thought, and so versatile once you’ve got some in the fridge. Duck confit breakfast hash? Sure. Duck confit tacos? Why yes please. And a slow cooker removes all the guesswork!
Photo and recipe from CHOW; header image of Duck Confit Fried Spring Rolls from CHOW
Trying this one on perfect summer tomatoes is a given, but even with crummy winter tomatoes the confit process will pull out fantastic flavors.
Photo and recipe from CHOW
3. POTATO CONFIT
Why AREN’T you cooking your potatoes in duck fat? If you didn’t know, Chowhounds, now you know.
Photo and recipe from Cooking on the Weekends
4. PORK BELLY CONFIT
The confit process is what makes restaurant pork belly so incredible. This over-the-top rich dish has the perfect fatty surface that begs for caramelization. Stock up on ugly Christmas sweaters now so you can get down on addictive pork belly, and hide all evidence of your own growing belly.
Photo and recipe from Lady and Pups
5. SALMON CONFIT
It can be tough to get fish just right, which is why confiting it is the perfect method to ensure you never overcook your salmon or even a meaty white fish like halibut. This preparation also adds negligible fat, so your fillet stays healthy as well.
Photo and recipe from Live to Eat
6. BUFFALO WING CONFIT
Here is a recipe where the confit process is used as part of a longer cooking method. The wings get the confit treatment, then they’re fried and coated with Buffalo sauce to achieve total wing perfection.
Photo and recipe from Serious Eats
7. GARLIC CONFIT
Garlic confit is the most versatile item on this list. It’s soft and mild with just the right toasted sweet garlic kick. Spread on roast beef sandwiches, blend into hummus, or ward off evil by spreading it on a cracker.
Photo and recipe from Saveur
8. LEEK CONFIT
A very traditional French recipe, this is the single best way to eat leeks. Their pungent allium notes are softened, as are their fibrous exteriors, to transform into melty oniony glory.
Photo and recipe from The Unemployable Chef
Vanessa W. Simmons is a former cook living in San Francisco, helping to run a food business. She's probably hungry, but if not she could eat.