Slow cooking, confit, reduction, reducing, olive oil, animal fat, roner
Slow cooking is a very old technique that has evolved and varied due to the current pace of life. In the past, this technique was used to cook using the residual heat of a wood-fired oven, so that the heat temperature was very low and the dishes took many hours to cook, even overnight or for a whole day. This is the main characteristic of this technique, slow cooking, for many hours, and gradually reaching the cooking temperature which will never exceed 95-100°. Nowadays there are slow cookers that allow food to be cooked for long hours without burning or moving, controlling the temperature that increases very slowly and gradually. (For more information on the new techniques of slow cooking and at low temperature go to Module 4, Advanced Level, Unit 2).
Confit is a low-temperature cooking technique in which food is cooked by placing it in fat (oil, butter, animal fat). In confit, the most important thing is to control the temperature and to ensure that the liquid never boils, so we will need a cooking thermometer or a roner. (For more information on roner cooking go to Module 4, Advanced Level, Unit 2).
To confit, we have to clean the food very well (removing unnecessary fats from the meat), fill the pot with the fat we are going to use (enough to cover the food), introduce the food we are going to cook, add the spices with which we want to flavour it (very typical of confit, it can be thyme, bay leaf, cloves, citrus peel or spices and salt) and cook at a temperature between 50° and 90°, although the temperature will depend on what we are going to cook (for more information on food temperatures visit the references).
Traditionally, confit was used to cook duck, rabbit or suckling pig, but nowadays we can cook meat, fish and vegetables and obtain delicious dishes, as the fat, herbs and spices add aroma and flavour to the food.
We can also confit fruit, but in this case, we have to use sugar and water instead of oil. (For more information go to references).
Reduction is a culinary technique used to concentrate the flavours of food, thickening liquids, broths, or other ingredients to create sauces or syrups (with sugar). It is very simple, we have to evaporate the liquid and get the ingredients to thicken without burning. To do this, we have to put the ingredients or the liquid we want to reduce in a frying pan over high heat, stir it until it boils and reduce it over low heat until the liquid evaporates.
With this technique we can make sauces with vinegar, wine, beer, fruit, broth, tomato, etc. With the reduction we will be able to give dishes an intense and very appetising flavour.
Slow cooking gives meats and vegetables a tender and delicious texture. By cooking in a covered pot, the food retains its nutrients and vitamins and do not evaporate as the little steam that is created condenses and falls back into the pot.
This technique is excellent for cooking without having to keep an eye on things, as you put the food in the pot, set the time (several hours) and you can devote yourself to other things.
If we use a slow cooker, in addition to the above, we will save energy, as the electricity consumption is minimal, despite being plugged in for hours.
Confit is very good for preserving food, as the fat allows the food to be kept in good condition for longer (preserving it in the fat). In the case of fruit, the confit process takes longer, but it allows the fruit to be preserved for up to three months after processing.
Meat, fish, vegetables, stews (legumes), rabbit, confit duck or suckling pig, candied (confit) fruit.