You see confit on a menu and wonder… Is it a dish? Is it a technique? Is it something French and fancy that you don’t bother with? Well, it’s really the first two, and if you have ever had a piece of duck confit leg that melts in your mouth, you know that you should most definitely bother with it.
The Science and the Technique
The word confit (“con-fee”), translated from French literally means “preserve.” It was a technique developed by French farmers to preserve meat before refrigeration became available.
The technique of “confit” is all about cooking the meat in a fat and storing it in a fat. Cover your meat in fat and cook it. Wait, doesn’t that sound like deep frying? The difference lies in the temperature. Typically, deep frying temperatures are between 325 to 450 degrees F and result in a crisp surface due to the evaporation of the water content from the meat.
In contrast, to confit, the meat is covered with cold or room temperature fat and cooked at lower temperatures between 250 to 275 degrees F. What this does is allows the meat to cook and tenderize by breaking down the connective tissue in the meat with no moisture or flavor loss.
Confit is most commonly seen with duck or goose legs, which are the fattiest portion of the birds. However it can be very effective for cuts of meat that have a good amount of connective tissue such as pork shoulder. And there is such a thing as confit chicken wings too!
The same technique can be applied to vegetables as well, resulting in concentrated flavor and tender texture. I have not tried this myself, but there are plenty of recipes out there on the web.
Where to Find It?
If you are not so inclined to get up close and personal with the duck and duck fat at home yourself (recipe here ), do not worry, there are plenty of restaurants in the area that offer this for your pleasure.
- Bistrot du Coin – Most French places (dare I say all?) have a confit on their menu. Bistrot du Coin’s duck leg confit is served with frisee and sautéed potatoes.
- Bistro La Bonne – This U street bistro offers a roasted five-spice duck breast and& duck leg confit, served with a sweet potato & potato gratin, ratatouille and port wine sauce. Sounds delicious!
- Woodward table – New spot offers a number of confit items on the menu. Go confit yourself out with duck confit flatbread, duck soup with confit to start with and a duck confit entrée!
- Corduroy – If you have had enough confit duck, get down here where they have a Confit Guinea Hen with mushrooms on the dinner menu.
- Restaurant Nora has a crispy Amish duck confit with faro, beets and a sour cherry sauce.
- Neighborhood spot Bar Pilar offers up a delicious duck confit with Dijon.
Now, go sound like a class act and impress your dining friends with your knowledge of fancy sounding French food.
If you have any other burning food questions, let me know in the comments!