Confit (French, prounounced cone-fee): “Meat cooked and preserved in fat: meat such as goose, duck, or pork that has been cooked and preserved in its own fat.”
Recently, I have had a mild obsession with all things confit. Specifically, duck confit…I could eat it for days. So, whilst planning my Easter Feast for this year, I came across a recipe for a roast leg of lamb that was stuffed with sundried tomatoes, rosemary, and garlic confit (yes, yes, and yes please.). Knowing what I do about the nature of something that is confit, I assumed that garlic confit would be garlic that is slow-cooked in some sort of fat. And I was right.
This recipe is quite simple, and the results are stunning. The garlic – which is slow roasted in olive oil with thyme and peppercorns – becomes rich, fatty, buttery, and wonderfully fragrant. While I made the garlic confit specifically for the roast leg of lamb, I realized quickly that it can be used to add flavor to any number of dishes. With garlic confit, you end up with whole roasted cloves of garlic and an amazing garlic oil (you store the garlic in oil it was roasted in), so you can use either the garlic or the oil to spice up a recipe. I used some of the garlic confit cloves in my roasting pan when I roasted the lamb, and I used some of the oil on the winter vegetables I roasted for Easter dinner. The confit can be pureed and spread on crostini, using in dressings and sauces, roasted with vegetables, etc. The list goes on.
I am still getting back into the swing of things from my vacation, but never fear – the rest of my easter lamb recipe will be posted shortly. For now, go make some garlic confit!
Adapted from How to Roast a Lamb by Michael Psilakis
MAKES 3 CUPS
3 cups garlic cloves, peeled (to make your life MUCH easier, you can buy peeled garlic cloves at Trader Joes)
1 fresh bay leaf or 2 dried leaves
8 to 10 sprigs fresh thyme
Kosher salt and whole black peppercorns
About 2 cups blended oil (50 percent canola, 50 percent extra-virgin olive), as needed
Put the garlic cloves in a heavy, covered braising pan or Dutch oven. Add the bay leaf and thyme, a scant tablespoon kosher salt, and 15 or 20 black peppercorns. Barely cover with the oil.
Cover the pan and braise in a 300°F oven until the cloves are pale golden and very tender, about 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes. Cool it to room temperature.
Transfer the garlic and all of the oil to a sterilized jar. Press a square of plastic wrap down directly onto the surface of the oil. Place another square of plastic over the rim of the jar and twist on the lid or secure with a rubber band. With every use, replace the square of plastic that touches the oil and use a perfectly clean fork or tongs each time to prevent cross-contamination from other surfaces in your kitchen. As long as the cloves are covered with oil, they will last for at least 3 weeks in the refrigerator.