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Apr 5, 2013 01:51 PM

Is confit unhealthy?

I understand that confit is cooking slowly in fat. I have never used this technique but have a recipe that wants me to confit my potatoes. It sounds delicious. My concern is that this will wind up with a lot of fat being absorbed into the potatoes. Causing them to be very unhealthy.

I am wondering if they do absorb a lot, or if they don't because it is like a bath. How would it compare to roasting tossed in olive oil where almost all of the oil ends up being eaten?

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  1. Whether its unhealthy or not depends on which school of science you believe about fat. I'm not fatphobic and actually eat about 75% of my calories from fat a day- but I make sure it's the "right" fats based on the homework I've done. There's a ton of info out there, Google is your friend. :) (Chowhound doesn't want us getting into medical talk here.)

    There are several fats that have been studied and have shown health benefits, again, Google will get you the info.

    In my opinion, No, confit is not unhealthy. (And it tastes awesome.)

    13 Replies
    1. re: weezieduzzit

      I recognize all those things and agree, I have no problems with fat either, and don't want to start a debate about that.

      I guess a better question would be "what would have the higher fat grams, confit or roasted"?

      1. re: cleopatra999

        It's hard to think of how something that is immersed in fat could end up having less fat than something that is only coated and then roasted - it works in the case of frying, because the pressure of the evaporating moisture prevents the oil from penetrating the interior of the food, but confits are typically made at lower temperatures.

        Imparting the flavour of the fat is actually the primary reason to make a confit, given that it's no longer necessary as a means of preserving foods. If you're trying to avoid absorbing or tasting the fat, then another low-temperature method (ghetto waterbath) or twice-baked/sauteed (though the essence is often said to be in the duck fat) would be better.

        1. re: mugen

          I'm not sure about that. I agree fat adds flavor, but a duck is inherently a very fatty creature, and when you roast a duck it is literally basted throughout the cooking process by that thick subcutaneous layer of fat. Plus, I don't know about you, but I always sear a confit leg before eating it, which renders off more fat. I could easily see there being no health differences between eating a confited or a roasted leg. I'm just speculating, though - I'd be interested to see some scientific test results on that.

          In my opinion, what gives confit that extra flavor boost is not so much the fat per se as the salt and herbs used in the dry brining process it undergoes before cooking. If you oversalt it during that process it could be unhealthy, but that's another issue.

          1. re: BobB

            I agree about the duck, and especially the breast.

            I am very, very specific, on how I wish that cooked. I want the skin to be very crisp, that subcutaneous fat layer properly rendered, but the breast meat to be about what I would call "medium rare," with very light pink, but room temp, in the inside. Just had a wonderful example of that at AME last week, but the Duck Leg Confit left a lot to be desired. Such is life.


            1. re: Bill Hunt

              I must say that I am ordering duck confit less in restaurants for some time. I think there are a lot of short cuts now. Even at Allard, last time I was there, it was clearly not what it had been in the past.

            2. re: BobB

              With a proper duck confit, the flavor is rich. A little goes a long way.

          2. re: cleopatra999

            If you don't have any problems with fat, why are you asking which one has more fat grams?

            1. re: sandylc

              Well I don't have a problem with fat, but try to make lighter choices where I don't compromise flavour. If we are talking about eating an entire days serving in one meal it is not worth it to me. I would rather 'waste' those kind if calories on cake!

              1. re: cleopatra999

                Well, cake is another topic entirely. Processed sugar is truly something to minimize, whereas fat is an actual nutrient.

                1. re: sandylc

                  I have rephrased the OP at the top. I am not interested in the merits of different nutrients, just expressing where I would rather use up my daily intake.

            2. re: cleopatra999

              To answer your question, I believe roasting potatoes would be less fat than confit.

            3. re: weezieduzzit

              One would also need to define "unhealthy" - much like "bad for you" it's never as simple as people make it sound with food. It all depends on what factors one is trying to maximize and which ones they're trying to minimize, sometimes they conflict.

              1. re: jgg13

                Exactly. For me, confitted (probably not a word) potatoes aren't good for me, but due to the potatoes, not the fats.

            4. In any case, I think confit is an over-rated anachronym from the pre-refrigeration era. (That should ruffle some tail feathers!)

              14 Replies
              1. re: Veggo

                Not least because anachronym isn't a word.

                It is redundant as a means of preservation, but it still has some use: when the cook actually intends to infuse food with the flavour of a fat.

                1. re: mugen

                  Pardon my ism's, and I am a big fan of duck and its fat uses, including my duck hash, but for my taste, most confits are one dimensional in texture and taste. I'm sure I have not experienced the best.

                  1. re: Veggo

                    I think that we'd have to have a substantial component of French genetic material to ever really understand the appeal, glory and nuances of fat. I like some fat, but not in the amounts that the French classically use; to me, it's excessive, cloying, and coats the palate. I don't think that I'll ever really understand what it is that is meant to be so sublime in pata negra (when served in the style that has only the tiniest sliver of meat), pork belly, etc.

                    1. re: mugen

                      And so many of the French remain skinny after it all, and I hate them for it:)

                      1. re: Veggo

                        The bastards: not only do they understand fat, but they have learned restraint. Definitely something that my little mind can't comprehend. It experiences something tasty and screams PUT MORE IN FACE NOW.

                        1. re: mugen

                          I'm still trying to invent a synomy for anachronym. A lovely white wine with dinner tonight, by the way.

                          1. re: Veggo

                            "synomy for anachronym."

                            A what for what?

                        2. re: Veggo

                          The Paris police round up fat French ladies before dawn every morning.

                          1. re: law_doc89

                            I have noticed that. The police had assumed that all tourists were long ago in bed, but as I could not sleep, I observed a bit sweep in Paris. I was sworn to secrecy, but since I escaped France, I can now tell my story.


                            1. re: Bill Hunt

                              Lucky for you, they still beat prisoners there.

                              1. re: law_doc89

                                Yes. I understand from "others," that the food in Paris lockups is pretty good, compared to Sheriff Joe Arpaio's "Tent City," but have no background in either.


                        3. re: mugen

                          then you haven't had a whole lot of actual French food served in France.

                          yes, they use fat - yes, they're generous with it -- but it's never excessive, cloying, or palate-coating. They're far too concerned with the overall flavor and texture to ever let that happen.

                          1. re: sunshine842

                            He! He! We are answering different posts.

                            I agree about the French and their use of fat in cooking. I am blessed with having some 3 star chefs custom make meals for me. The French know how to use fatty foods, such as liver and duck in ways we her in USA can only envy.

                      2. re: mugen

                        " anachronym;" it is now.

                        I guess a word used in the wrong century?

                    2. I'm not at all sure you can confit potatoes, although I could be very much mistaken. When preparing meat for confit you salt it and put it uncovered in the refrigerator, which dries it out considerably. What moisture does remain is displaced by fat in the cooking process, and collects at the bottom of the cooking vessel, and then after the meat is removed the fat has to be very carefully poured off the juices, which will spoil the confit if they remain. Before the fat is poured over the meat in whatever container it's to be kept in, it should be heated enough and long enough to make sure all moisture is boiled away. However, the considerable moisture potatoes have I believe is necessary if their starch and fiber are to be cooked properly, which would seem to disqualify them from this process.

                      Yes, it is an anachronism, as Veggo wanted to say, and is no longer necessary to preserve meat safely for months at a time. Neither is winemaking or jelly-making necessary to preserve the grape crop anymore, but that's hardly why we do it. We do it because wine and jelly are good things to have, as is confit, although none of them qualifies as Health Food, and all should be taken in moderation (however one chooses to define that!).

                      Confit is "unhealthy" as barbecued pig, bacon, eggs and butter are; most of us can have some now and then without heading to an early grave, but we should be mindful of things like cholesterol and triglyceride levels, especially if we've been told to, and not make pigs of ourselves.

                      By the way, turkey thighs make exquisite confit …

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Will Owen

                        What fat(s) do you use to confit turkey? I'm imagining a variety of fats would work, from bacon to chicken.

                        1. re: sr44

                          I've done turkey thighs salting and seasoning in the same manner as duck legs, then confited them with good ol' pork fat.
                          They turned out scrumptious...specially if allowed to stay encapsulated in the fat for a month or more.

                          1. re: The Professor

                            Roger that, Professor - I have some much-used duck/goose fat which I bumped with butcher's lard. My first batch was two of them, one of which I tried after ten days, and the second after about a month and a half. Both good, but the second one was amazing.

                            You need a fat with no moisture and a good resistance to oxidizing. I don't think chicken fat is up to the job, and bacon fat has too much other stuff in it, plus if it's drippings from cooked bacon it will have been heated too much. Lard, duck fat and goose fat are rendered at temperatures well below their smoke point. Just don't use the shelf-stable supermarket lard; THAT is really unhealthy!

                      2. Well, since taste most often = unhealthy, then it probably is - but I do not care. One can only live so long on leaves, twigs and sprouts.


                        15 Replies
                        1. re: Bill Hunt

                          One of my very favorite foods is baby greens with a touch of lemon, olive oil, and salt. Is this unhealthy?

                          1. re: sandylc

                            Of course not. As a matter of fact, the nutrients in the greens are fat-soluble, so you need to eat them with fat.

                            1. re: Violatp

                              As I do. Olive oil and often nuts. Which is another good point here about fat as a necessary nutrient. Mods, I'll stop here.

                              But my point was to Hunt; he thinks good-tasting food is often unhealthy. I think there are plenty of good-tasting foods that are considered healthy by most. (The whole "healthy" designator being completely subjective, of course).

                                1. re: sandylc


                                  I am only HOPING that some of my good-tasting food will not kill me. Maybe I need to consume more red wine with some... ?


                              1. re: sandylc

                                Sounds like it should NOT be, but what do I know.

                                All of my greens are done with bacon grease, and usually bacon bits, or maybe ham. However, for taste, I usually use some white vinegar on the greens, which is touted as a healthy item, by many. I do it for taste, and not for any other reasons.


                                1. re: Bill Hunt

                                  That sounds good, too. You're eating greens, right? Nothing that wrong with a bit of bacon over the top. I vote "healthy" on this one,

                                  Hope I didn't ruin it for you by saying it's healthy!

                                  1. re: sandylc

                                    I care about taste, and then "healthy" can come later.

                                    Being from the Deep South, we do a lot of greens.


                                      1. re: sandylc

                                        But the 4 basic food groups in the South are sugar, salt, grease, and booze.

                                        1. re: law_doc89

                                          What's the last time you actually traveled in the South? Where did you eat?

                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                            All the time and everywhere. Why do you ask?

                                2. re: Bill Hunt

                                  Weird, I eat tons of great food and I eat healthy... you can eat healthy without resorting to only eating "leaves, twigs and sprouts".

                                  1. re: juliejulez

                                    Since I eat very few leaves, and fewer twigs, with but a light dusting of sprouts (depends on the recipe), I hope that you are correct.



                                3. No food is unhealthy as such. Eating some foods more often than "very rarely" can be unhealthy.