Confit is a generic term for various kinds of food that have been immersed in a substance for both flavor and preservation.
Let’s be honest. Using a lot of fat to cook is fucking expensive and also a big mess. So why should we use this cooking method?
The first idea of confit food is fat penetrate the food and makes it flavorful and tender, right?
New researchers have found that fat doesn’t penetrate into the food. The fat only coats the ingredient!
But we all know duck leg confit has a totally different flavor from any other cooking method applied to cook a duck leg. Why?
Let’s talk about flavor.
First, as a preservation method, we salt the meat or marinate to get rid of the nasty things that can spoil the food, right?
Lightly curing the meat allows us to preserve the thing for a long time. With time, the enzymes act and change the flavor.
Also, with time the fat gets rancid and also changes.
Second, we always cook confit adding herbs and spices into the liquid. So the fat is full of basil leaf, black peppercorn and thyme flavors and aromas for example.
Be brave and taste the fat only. You will be amazed of how flavorful it is.
Ok Fábio, so the fat doesn’t penetrate the food. So why should I cook in fat instead of cook in water?
Because of an event called osmosis. That’s the good reason to confit your damn bird.
When you cook in water, the flavor of your ingredient flows to the water because the environment with more concentrate liquids always goes to the less concentrate (this is osmose DUMB!).
It’s like making a stock. The flavor goes to the liquid.
As I told you already, fat doesn’t penetrate the food. So when you cook food submerged in fat, the flavors of the food doesn’t go anywhere!
Besides preservation, that’s the reason of confit.
Cook in water and you lose flavor, cook in stock and you add stock flavor to your food (also a good thing), cook with air and you’ll dry the ingredient (oven…smart boy) so cook confit and the flavor would stay inside your food.
Ok, good reasons to cook confit, but fat still expensive and messy.
The option is sous-vide. Add flavored fat inside the bag together with the main ingredient and cook. The bag will protect the food as the fat does.