Confit: A delicious explainer from Ada Street restaurant Chicago
June 6, 2012 (CHICAGO) (WLS) -- Confit is a French term that means 'to preserve,' and while it typically refers to meat or game, some Chicago restaurants also serve fruit confit.
In Chicago, the term confit usually is associated with duck, which is where ABC7's Hungry Hound starts his story.
Long before refrigeration, there was confit, and the ancient method - often used with ducks - is deployed frequently at Ada Street, a new space in an industrial corridor that also happens to have a small kitchen. The emphasis is on the soundtrack and the great cocktails, but chef Zoë Schor also manages to use French technique to make her duck confit.
"The word confit comes from the French confiture - to preserve - and generally it means something that has been cooked and then stored in fat to preserve it," said Schor.
The first thing Schor does is salt duck legs, thus curing them, and drawing out the moisture.
"You rinse the salt off or wipe it off with a damp cloth, and once you've done that you pack the legs in duck fat and cook it on low heat for an extended period of time," she said.
Schor cooks the legs for about three-and-a-half hours. But the nice thing about confit is that the fat eventually cools and hardens, forming a natural preservation system. When she's ready to assemble her dish, she just heats up the fat-covered duck slowly on the stove, then removes the legs and shreds the meat, using it in any number of ways. Her most recent version included imported cavatelli pasta.
"We prepare it with parmesan cheese, the duck confit, a little bit of spinach, and then finish it with a poached egg, and then when you break that egg and mix it into the pasta, it makes kind of a sauce," said Schor.
Most of her diners probably don't realize the amount of work that goes into such a seemingly simple dish, but Schor says it's absolutely worth the effort.
"I think the trouble speaks for itself when you taste it - it's just a much more tender, more flavorful end product then just simply taking duck legs and cooking them," she said.
Schor's duck confit preparation changes pretty frequently. And at Ada Street, the focus is on small plates and cocktails, so not really heavy, hearty dishes.
1664 N. Ada St.
restaurants, steve dolinsky
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