The New York Times has a look at one of my favorite culinary techniques, confit, in Florence Fabricant's article, By Fat Transformed: The Confit, in All Its Splendor. Chef David Kinch of Manresa in Los Gatos, CA says,
"I once had chicken livers confit in a small bistro in the north of Italy and couldn't forget them," he said. "They were smooth, like ganache, or good foie gras. You can spread them on toast."
To achieve this consistency, his technique is unusual. After carefully trimming the livers, Mr. Kinch lets them soak in milk overnight, a French technique that makes them less bitter. To cook them, he places them in clarified butter in a saucepan, enough to cover the livers completely. A sprig of thyme or a bay leaf can add a subtle dimension.
Hmmm…this sounds like something I might have to try here at home. I love confit of anything, but especially of duck. I almost always order it in Paris when I see it on the menu, and am rarely disappointed. I haven't gotten into the confiting of vegetables as much as meat though, and in general it seems the word has been applied quite liberally by American chefs to various preparations. A stricter definition (some might say the only definition) from Larousse Gastronomique:
A piece of pok, goose, duck or turkey cooked in its own fat and stored in a pot, covered in the same fat to preserve it.
Or as a chef I worked with once said, "There's no such thing as onion confit! An onion doesn't have fat, so you can't cook it in its own fat!" Well, right or wrong, when something's cooked long and slow so that it's amazingly tender and rich, whether animal or vegetable, I call that delicious!