The word confit (pronounced con-fee) is most often used in traditional French cooking for duck legs that have been salted, slow-cooked in their own fat (we’re talking 170 to 275 degrees for four to ten hours), stored in that same fat, and then warmed-up and finished at a later date. Salting and storing the slow-cooked meat (submerged in its own fat in a cool place) was one of the earliest methods of preservation in olden days, and the word confit actually means preserved in French. If you’ve ever had duck confit salad at a stylish French bistro, your mouth will water from now until eternity when anybody utters the word confit. Yes, it’s that good. But I digress. . .
So a similar concept holds for shallot confit. You submerge the shallot cloves in oil, roast them at a low heat for a few hours, store them in the oil you roasted them in, and then pluck them out at a later date to enrich a recipe. The shallots get sweet and succulent from the slow-roasting (just like roasted garlic), so much so, you can simply mush them up and smear them on a slice of baguette and they will taste delicious.
How to Use Shallot Confit
- Roasted or pan-fried meats like pork chops, lamb roast, steak: Warm-up a clove of two and serve whole on the side; or dice up, sauté until golden brown, mix with the pan drippings, and sprinkle on top. Or, sauté with some other element like I did with mushrooms (see below).
- Pizza: Cut them up, sauté them, and sprinkle on top.
- Sandwiches: Mush into a spread—even a standard fried-egg sandwich gets new meaning.
- Salads: Chop up and mix into the dressing—or sauté until carmel-colored and toss into the greens.
- Soup: Dice and/or mush up and add to your soup base.
- Shallot oil: After you’ve used up the shallots, save that infused oil. It’s gold, baby, gold. Use it in salad dressing, for sautéing other veggies, drizzling into your stir-fry—you name it.
NOTE: More often than not, you’re going to want to sauté the confit at a later date to finish it off, before adding to a dish.
Pork-Chops with Shallot Confit and Mushrooms
This is the first dish I’ve flavored-up with my pre-prepped shallot confit:
– I sliced up a bunch of the shallot cloves confit and sautéed them in their own oil until they turned dark gold.
– Added thick-sliced baby portobello mushrooms and sautéed some more.
– Quick-fried thin pork chops brushed with olive-oil and salt and pepper and piled the shallot/mushroom mélange on top.
Simple but tasty! (Though I should have cooked the pork chops even less. Darn!)
Try making some shallot confit yourself and tell me what you think! And please share more ways to use it :)