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Preserving my mind, I mean duck, no goose, OK, pork  

post #1 of 2
Thread Starter 
Mr McGee,

First I would like to thank you for finding the time to answer question here on Cheftalk.It is a special treat to have you with us.

I anxiously awaited your revised book last year, and am blown away by the depth of information. I kid with my peers that I spent three hours just reading about dairy, and I have found your book a great tool/resource for my students.OK, enough brown nosing. :D My question/questions have to do with confiting foods. The two people who I feel I learned the best lesson of this technique was when i was working with Christian Bertrand of Lutece, and studying under Madeleine Kamman.Boths approach to the technique were quite different, but both with excellent results. The only common theme in there preparation was neither used T.C.M.

Christian cure was basically only salt, and he cured for 24 hours.
Madeleine's cure was always 36 hours and she used certain spices like cumin,allspice,nutmeg, ginger cardamom,cinnamon Etc.Eluding to the spice trade that went through Europe hundreds of years ago. So these spices where adapted.

As far as cooking, Christian used the stove top, and Madeleine used the oven.Both would cook the confit at about 250/275 F. First question on temperature. Are those to high? Isn't the duck almost frying at that temp?I have played around with temps and I have found cooking the protein at poaching temperature (around 160/170 F)for 3to4 hours results in an amazing product. Is this safe?Also, how long do you feel you can safely hold confit in it's fat before you have to renouveler? 6 months, less, more?And the fat, how many applications can one use it for before it becomes unsafe? I usually go 4 times.

Last question...your thoughts, pro/con with T.C.M.

Thank you very much for your time.
Baruch ben Rueven / Chanaבראד, ילד של ריימונד והאלאן
Baruch ben Rueven / Chanaבראד, ילד של ריימונד והאלאן
post #2 of 2
Thanks very much for your kind words!

The T(inted) C(uring) M(ixture) is mostly salt with about 6% nitrite, which fixes the meat pigment to keep it pink and inhibits the growth of botulism bacteria. It’s certainly not necessary if you’re going to refrigerate the confit, but it was probably a good idea when confits were just stored in the cellar—the fat makes the meat surface the kind of air-free environment that botulism bacteria love.

I agree with you that the Bertrand/Kamman cooking temperatures are high. These traditional temperatures made sense when the aim was to make the confit as stable as possible for long-term storage, but for the best texture, your temperatures are just right, and perfectly safe.

Regarding how long you can hold confit: it depends on the fridge temperature and details of the preparation—for example, the proportion of salt, how thoroughly the meat is drained of the liquid that it releases, . . . Impossible to generalize. I would say the fat can be reused as often as it remains palatable, as long as it’s brought back to 200+ degrees regularly to keep it bacteria-free. Used fats do accumulate breakdown products that probably aren’t great for our health, but we don’t have enough specific knowledge to say much more than that.

Harold
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