Culinary Technique – Confit
Confit is an ancient preserving technique that can be done in cooking fat or in a syrup. The vegetables are completely submerged in one or the other substance, then cooked at low heat until tender. Cooking temperature should not rise above 90 °C. During the confit process, the moisture in each cell is replaced by fat or sugar. Confiting in fat can be done with vegetable oil, like olive oil for example, or in animal fat such as goose fat. Olive oil is the most widely used to confit vegetables because it preserves their flavour best. You can add fresh garlic, herbs (thyme or rosemary, for example), balsamic vinegar or other seasoning. The vegetables will thus acquire a richer flavour. You can also add vegetable broth or even some veal stock. It will evaporate, leaving behind some of its flavour. Mediterranean vegetables like tomatoes, zucchini, eggplants and onions are the best suited for a confit in olive oil. Harder vegetables like potatoes, carrots and other root vegetables are ideal for confiting in goose fat. But at the end of the day, it is of course your personal preference that will determine what to use. A confit using syrup requires a mix of equal parts of water and sugar. Cook the vegetables in this liquid and let them cool. You can add sugar during the candying process to obtain a slightly caramelised flavour when the liquid is reduced. A sweet confit is in itself colourless. You can add sweet spices such as cinnamon, vanilla or cloves. The best vegetables for candying are cherry tomatoes, eggplants, endives (chicon), shallots, celery, red cabbage, fennel… Use them to garnish desserts or salads, or serve them with cheese.
- Clean and wash the vegetables. Chop them up if necessary.
- Heat the cooking fat or syrup and submerge the vegetables in it.
- Cook them al dente. You can season them with a bit of garlic, fresh herbs or other flavourings during the cooking process.