A traditional way to preserve meat, confit refers to both the process of slow cooking and storing food in fat. Typically made with either duck or goose legs, this preparation can also be applied to foods like tomatoes, onions, garlic, eggplant, salmon, tuna and chicken. To prepare the traditional confit with duck or goose, the legs and thighs are placed in a roasting pan along with fat from the bird and cooked slowly so that the fat renders and covers the meat. It is allowed to cook like this for hours, until the meat is tender and yielding.
Once it was cooked, the leg and thigh would be placed in a jar and covered with the rendered fat. For most effective storage, the meat would be covered by an inch of the rendered fat, in order to keep light and oxygen out and prevent spoilage. Though this storage practice is still used in some places, most confit you find now is sealed in plastic to ensure freshness.
Another popular variation is tomato confit. In most cases, tomatoes are sun dried (or slowly roasted in the oven), given a brief dip in boiling vinegar, packed into jars and then topped with olive oil. While the tomatoes are not cooked in the oil, packing them in the oil still places them firmly in the confit camp. It’s an effective method for tomato preservation that’s been used in Europe for generations.
In the case of salmon or tuna confit, the fish is placed into a pan and covered with oil. The temperature is kept low so that the fish poaches in the oil and doesn’t take on a greasy consistency. Once the fish is cooked through, it is removed from the oil and served immediately. Though it isn’t in keeping with the traditional confit storage methods, it is still considered a confit treatment because of the cooking technique.