Confit refers to a particular preparation of a food, usually a meat like duck, preserved by being salted and cooked slowly in its own fat. It can also be also a condiment made from fruit or vegetables cooked to the consistency of jam. Common non-meat confit foods, include garlic or lemons, cooked and preserved in a fat like oil or lard.
A specialty of Gascony, France, the cooked meat used for confit is packed into a pot or crock and covered with fat. The fat seals and preserves the meat and is typically discarded before serving. Once preserved, and stored properly in a sealed container in the refrigerator, it usually keeps for about six months. Originally, peasants used this method to preserve meats to avoid the expense associated with refrigeration.
Meats, most often duck, goose, or pork, preserved in this method are often considered a delicacy. Confit d'oie is preserved goose and confit de canard is preserved duck. The meat in these dishes is moist and delicate.
Because the preparation method also creates a salty taste, it is wise to serve confit with something sweet or soure. Often, the meat is eaten as is, accompanied by side dishes like beans, potatoes, or green salad. In France, the meat is used in stews and cassoulets. Alternatively, it can be added to other dishes, for example to flavor risotto. Salmon and tuna can also be preserved in this manner.
Other confits are made from fruit, not meat. Fruit confit is similar to fruit jams and unlike meat confit, fruit confit is preserved in sugar, not fat. Small fruits, such as cherries, may be preserved in sugar or honey. Larger fruits, such as apples, melons, pears, or peaches, can also be preserved but because it is time consuming to preserve larger fruits, they can be more expensive. A lemon confit creates a nice condiment for cakes.
There are other versions of confit that are acidic — tomatoes may be preserved in vinegar, for example. Onion confit, which is similar to caramelized onions, is prepared with sugar and balsamic vinegar and may be used as a condiment for steak or chicken, or to enhance the flavor of pasta, mashed potatoes, or curry. It complements pizza and goat cheese as well. A shallot confit, or one made of tomatoes and oranges, creates a pleasant condiment for fish. One made with garlic can be served over lamb or vegetables.