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Blog : Easy Garlic Confit - A Pantry Staple Blog : Easy Garlic Confit - A Pantry Staple

Chef at HandTM Blog

Easy Garlic Confit - A Pantry Staple

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Garlic Confit 600x350 Confit (känˈfē) garlic doesn't announce its soft, warm personality physically like its caramelized cousin roasted garlic.  Confit garlic looks almost as pungent and acerbic as its naked other cousin raw garlic, if somewhat more pliable, and is a professional kitchen staple.

Confit garlic, like confit duck, is poached luxuriously slow in fat at low heat.  The method has French origins, conceived originally as a means of pre-refrigeration preservation (confit meats are first cured in salt and sometimes herbs, then poached in fat, often duck fat).  Confit Garlic in Domenica Fiore Classico 225x225As goes confit garlic, the resulting morsels are soft, lightly sweet and delicate, and be called into service in an instant to flavour a variety of foods ranging from mashed potatoes, eggs, soups, gravies and sauces - even toast. 

The by-product poaching oil is nothing short of gently flavoured liquid gold, which we use in vinaigrettes,  drizzle over roast vegetables, incorporate into starches, to flavour stocks, etc.  Confit garlic is a C@H kitchen staple.  Ironically, the love affair began in an Italian kitchen.

Several years ago, at a donor luncheon at Cioppino's Mediterranean Grill in Vancouver, BC, hosted by the St. Paul's Hospital Foundation, I received one of my all time favourite cook books - Cioppino's Mediterranean Grill by Chef Pino Posteraro.  It was personalized to me which I treasure, signed by Pino, one of Canada's greatest chefs and restaurateurs.

While technically precise, the recipes lean heavily on the simple, clean and authentic seasonal flavours and ingredients that make Italian cuisine a perennial favourite.  One recipe in particular, Pino's Veal Medallions al Limone with Roasted Artichokes, Confit Garlic, and Shaved Pecorino Cheese (p. 164), inspired my obsession with and dependence on confit garlic.  The book also reaffirmed my conviction that a well-stocked pantry (cupboard and fridge) of 'essentials' is the everyday gourmet's best friend; indeed the first step to good eating without great effort.

Admittedly, I attempted the above-mentioned recipe only once, as making confit artichokes the way Pino does can be as arduous as sourcing just the right baby artichokes - both undertakings best left to the Chef, I say.  The recipe did however, inspire a quick and easy veal, lemon and confit garlic recipe that can be made in just a few minutes with a few pantry essentials you should have on hand every day: confit garlic, preserved lemons, chicken stock, white wine, white flour, lemon zest and juice, and extra virgin olive oil.

To make Confit Garlic:  Buy the freshest, fully-cured, hard-stalk garlic you can find.  I used up the last of a bulk of beautiful Yugoslavian garlic we purchased at the Vancouver Winter Farmers' Market just after Christmas.  Peel the garlic (30-40 cloves from six head of garlic) and carefully remove any overly hard ends.  Place the cloves in an oven-proof dish that is about the width and depth of the container in which you will refrigerate the confit in.  Garlic Confit with label 325x225Cover with olive oil, then cover the container with a lid or foil and bake in a slow oven (275-300F) for about three hours.  I add a few sprigs of fresh, bruised thyme (you could use rosemary) during the last hour of cooking, and I also use a good quality olive oil. 

Confit garlic recipes abound and range from stove-top to deep-frying, to gently simmering for hours on end.  None of the recipes focus on the oil, but I disagree.  Using low-grade olive oil for cooking is akin to using bad wine for cooking, producing similar, disagreeable results.  I wouldn't use a finishing quality olive oil, but because we are poaching at low temperatures, I do use an excellent quality oil.  We were lucky enough to get our hands on some Domenica Fiore Olio Classico - available exclusively to select few restaurants (ironically, Ciopinno's is one of them) - a peppery XVOO of gorgeous pedigree and colour that gently poached my garlic to confit perfection.   Cool, cover and refrigerate in an airtight container. It should last well as long as it stays covered by oil.

Confit garlic displayed in a gorgeous glass or vintage glass jar makes a coveted hostess gift.  Make a large batch during the holidays to have on-hand for dropping-in and drop-ins alike. Tuck a sprig or two of fresh (washed and completely dried) herbs in the oil at the last minute, string-tag the jars and you have beautiful handmade gifts from your kitchen.

To make Veal with Confit Garlic and Preserved Lemons:

  • veal scallopini for four persons (we ordered Larosa veal from Cioffi's Meats in Burnaby)
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) white wine (Italian or dry)
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) organic, low-sodium chicken stock
  • juice and finely grated zest of one organic lemon
  • 1 finely sliced brine-preserved lemon (pips removed, sliced in rounds)*
  • few tablespoons (50 ml) chopped fresh Italian flatleaf parsley or thyme
  • 4 large confit garlic cloves, sliced in half lengthwise + 1 teaspoon of the oil
  • flour for dredging
  • salt and pepper for seasoning

Ask your butcher to pound the scallopini to an even thickness/thin-ness (or do it yourself).  Dredge lightly with flour seasoned with sea salt and pepper.   In a hot pan dressed in quality olive oil, sear scallopini quickly on both sides to brown only slightly (should still be very slightly pink as it will continue cooking),  then remove to a hot oven-proof platter; cover.  

Veal with Garlic Confit and Lemon 600w

Deglaze pan with chicken stock, add the white wine then the lemon juice - reducing by half over medium-high heat.  Just before turning off the heat, add confit garlic, lemon zest and preserved lemon slices, and swirl the pan to warm them.   Pour the sauce directly over the hot scallopini and garnish with chopped Italian parsley.   Serve alongside grilled mediterranean vegetables or over fresh broad pasta noodles drizzled with excellent finishing olive oil like Domenica Fiore Olio Reserva.

*brine preserved lemons can be found at Whole Foods, Choices and Nourish Markets, as well as most Iranian (Persian) and middle eastern markets.  A recipe for Meyer Lemons Preserved in Cardamom, Kaffir and Lemon Grass Infused Brine will appear on our recipe pages and blog, next month.

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