It has been raining like crazy here! California is going to wash away into the Pacific. For the past month or so we have been getting consistent rain every week. I gotta say, really enjoy it! Nothing makes me happier than cooking while it’s gray and stormy outside, especially in the winter. The only bad thing about the weather is that it seems to be rainy on the weekends and we have been trying to do our Table by Destination (t.b.d.) popups on the weekends but sadly have had to cancel. So far we have been doing our dinners outdoors but need to find some unique indoor spaces for the “rainy season”. While prepping for our last t.b.d. dinner I was playing around with different confit recipes of duck, chicken legs, both amazing, and also some aromatic confits using onions, garlic and tomato. These have been incredible, definitely a game changer when it comes to building flavors in a dish.
Confit is a technique of cooking something in its own fat or by using oil. It’s a centuries old method for preserving food long before we all had refrigerators. When doing an onion, garlic or tomato confit, I used a good olive oil, a few herbs and a sturdy cast iron dish. As a result of slowly cooking these aromatics, the flavors permeate the oil giving you a delicate, perfumed oil that can be used to cook with or to season any dish. Not only do you get flavored oils but you get ridiculously soft, roasty garlic cloves that can be spread on anything, used in any dish for any reason. The onion petals are fork tender and are just as versatile as the garlic.
Now the tomatoes….(sigh) the tomatoes are one of the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten. They are pure umami. I put them on everything! On steak, beans, in pasta dishes, salmon, any vegetables, on toast, on ANYTHING! I made a compound butter using tomato confit and put on everything! It heightens every dish with it’s complex, savory flavor. I’ll definitely have to create a post on that smokey tomato compound butter.
I call this recipe a “winter” confit simply because I used canned tomatoes instead of fresh tomatoes. But believe me, in the summer I will use ripe tomatoes in the same way. Canned tomatoes work just fine, strain the juices from a can of diced tomatoes or whole tomatoes, I like to reserve the juices for other uses. Make sure you buy good quality canned tomatoes. I like Muir Glen and San Marzano tomatoes, they’re organic and have great flavor.
Winter Tomato Confit
Makes approximately 2 cups
1 28oz can of diced or whole tomatoes
1 cup of extra virgin olive oil
5 cloves of garlic, smashed and roughly chopped
3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme
1/2 tbsp of dried oregano
1/4 tsp of sea salt
pinch of red pepper flakes
- Strain juices from canned tomatoes and reserve for other recipes, if you’d like.
- Preheat oven to 250°F. In a shallow baking dish place the tomatoes and season with the salt. Then scatter the thyme, oregano, garlic and chili flakes over the tomatoes. Pour enough olive oil over top of tomatoes until the tomatoes are just covered.
- Place in oven and bake low and slow for 3 or 4 hours. It’s ok to occasionally stir the tomatoes.
- When the tomatoes have darken to a shade of maroon (not burned) remove from oven and allow to cool to room temperature.
Note: You can strain the oil from the tomatoes if you like and you can use that tomato scented oil to flavor almost anything, or keep them together in an airtight container in your refrigerator for around a month.
I recommend adding these lovely tomatoes to pasta dishes, over meat or vegetables that need a little something but seriously this tomato confit can be used on almost anything, it’s that good.