I first discovered the process of making confit last year when my friend, Dr. J, introduced me to his tomato sauce confit on pasta. In a nutshell, to make a confit, we cook something very slowly and at very low temperature, in fat. Living in the world’s second largest French-speaking city, we are used to duck confit, a very traditional dish made from duck cooked slowly and then preserved in its own fat. It is spectacularly delicious.
Americans are petrified of eating fat – this despite having the world’s highest obesity rate. This is a fantastic dilemma that in recent years has been challenged by much research showing that a low fat diet paradoxically leads to obesity – likely due to the difficulty in finding satisfaction without fat in the diet.
But even the most rabid clean-eaters will be happy to know that one can make a confit with very little fat. For example, my tomato sauce confit uses only 1/2 tablespoon of oil per serving. Not only is it excruciatingly easy to make, but it has the added health benefit of not denaturing the fat (critical if you’re using olive oil), as well as preserving the very fresh flavor of the other ingredients:. Here’s my variation of Dr. J’s recipe:
- Serves 4
- Put 2 Tbsp. olive oil in a pan
- Chop or finely slice (I use a truffle slicer) 2 large cloves of garlic and add to pan
- Add 15-20 good-sized cherry tomatoes or the equivalent in fresh tomato chunks from larger tomatoes (but believe me, the cherry tomatoes produce a much better sauce)
- Add some salt and pepper
- Cook over very low heat (2-3 on a electric range) for a couple of hours or until the tomatoes have rendered their liquid. If the liquid begins to bubble, lower the heat even more.
- At the very end, add a few basil leaves and toss the whole thing with some freshly boiled pasta (I prefer spaghetti). I sometimes also throw in some fresh arugula at the very end and allow it to wilt in the warm pasta
- Sprinkle with some Reggiano to taste.
Total work time: 5 minutes. Deliciousness factor: Off the scale.