Cooked in its own rendered fat and lard, pork confit is seasoned pork that is slow cooked. When the cooking process is complete, the pork is extremely tender, as it has been submerged in its own renderings for the entire cooking process. Before the confit is served or used in any of a number of recipes, it is allowed to cool without being removed from the renderings. Once it is cooled, it is stored in the fat in which it was cooked.
This process of cooking, cooling, and storing called confit originated in France and was used as a means of preserving the meat for a longer time period before the creation of the refrigerator. More common than pork, water fowl were chosen for the first confit recipes. These hearty dishes were considered a tasty delicacy.
A very fatty cut of pork is the best choice for the recipe. Even a lean cut of pork like a tenderloin, however, will prove to become a savory meat once it undergoes this traditional French cooking process. Whatever the cut of meat, this dish can be served as a fancy meal or for a family dinner.
Generally when done to the best advantage, the cooking pork confit proves to be a two-day process. The day before the cooking is to begin, the pork is cut into cubes ranging from 2 to 3 inches (5 to 7.6 cm). The cubed meat is then coated with salt, pepper, and spices. The spices most commonly used are thyme, rosemary, and sage. The next day the salt, pepper, and spices are washed from the meat, and then the meat is fully submerged in the warm fat bath. The pork is then cooked and baked for approximately four hours.
After the cooking process is complete, it is best if the pork is left in the fat overnight. On the day it is served, the pork is removed from the fat and reheated in a hot oven. This heating process not only warms the pork confit throughout, but it also gives the meat a warm brown hue.
Roasted potatoes, or any other side dishes that are popularly served with a roast pork, go well with pork confit. The fat and lard from the confit can be kept and used again, while any extra pork confit can be used in the popular French dish cassoulet. Pork confit is a dish that tastes better and better each time it is reheated.