Thursday, October 4, 2007

Tomato Confit

I’ve been making batches of Tomato Confit. Timo found the recipe in the Zuni Café cookbook, exclaimed with satisfied glee, and passed it along. I’ve picked a lot of plum tomatoes at Waldingfield, washed, sliced, salted, added garlic and basil, covered all with too much olive oil, and roasted half-a-dozen batches at 300° for two hours or so. Almost every night we have a fresh batch to eat with bread and salad, and I’ve been piling up the left overs in a covered glass dish, which was almost full.

There’s enough oil in each batch that it’s easy to leave most of it in the baking dish and just layer in the next batch of tomatoes, garlic, and herbs. The oil becomes remarkably flavorful, almost rich with the concentrated flavors baked into it. The tomatoes themselves are baked long enough to remove almost all the water from them, and the effect is essentially sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil. 

Which brings up the question of what percentage of tomatoes sold as sun-dried are sun-dried? I suspect it’s very low. But oven-dried tomato isn’t a particularly appealing name. It brings up images of limp stewed tomatoes. So confit, which I’ve only known as various forms of meat packed in their own fat, seems like an apt name for the result of the long, slow roasting.

Today, I reheated the accumulated confit in the oven and canned it all in pint-size jars. It looks quite beautiful and the jars sealed nicely. I think that we have at last found a way to store tomatoes for use through the winter. I want to make much more, and I have another batch in the oven right now.

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