Confit de Gesiers Panzanella
Confit is one of mankind’s most luxurious cooking techniques. It is technically a braise, but we take liberty in substituting fat where liquid would regularly be our medium. In most of your travels you will run across this method in regards to poultry. But to confit something, like all things, has provided many a chef a bit of poetic freedom. Not to be pointing the finger in the mirror, I have “seen” lobster tails confit in bacon fat, tomatoes in olive oil, and even a whole leg of a boar was once catapulted into the heavens by some fat that had been used to make cracklins. It is by all means the best of every world. You get to use a piece of meat that tends to be tough when heat is applied with no regard and make it tender. All the while, you are also adding a deeper sense richness and devotion that could only translate to love later on at the table or at the very minimum, lust.
We are all just humble Domestiques du Plasir. We are simply in search of ingredients and cookery that disclose our soul and our actions will reflect as such. This recipe takes the often over-looked chicken gizzard with the aid of confit to make tender and bring a little lust to what would have been an ugly and untouchable rendezvous, regardless of your level of sobriety.
Serves 6 comfortably before another 2 courses
1 ¼# chicken gizzards (1 pack from the market)
1 1/2T Kosher salt
10 sprigs of fresh thyme
1T black peppercorn
3 bay leaves
2 cloves of garlic sliced thinly
1 quart rendered chicken, duck or pork fat
For the Spiced Pecans:
2c pecan halves
1T olive or canola oil
2t Kosher salt
1/2t cayenne pepper
For the Salad:
3c Brussels sprouts stemmed and cut in half lengthwise
1 large sweet potato peeled and diced about ½ x ½ inch
½ loaf of stale artisan country bread
2T extra virgin olive oil
1 shallot peeled and sliced thinly
2t Creole or whole grain mustard
5T red wine vinegar
2T Steens cane syrup
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
All proper confit should start with a cure. Take the gizzards and rinse them with a little water. Gently pat them dry as you would your forehead while wagering on horses and place into a small bowl. Add the salt, peppercorns, thyme, bay leaves and garlic to the bowl. Toss all the ingredients together and cover the bowl. Place the bowl into the cooler and let the gizzards embrace the cure for 8-12 hours.
Preheat your oven to 225 degrees. Remove the properly cured gizzards from the cooler and place all the ingredients into a colander and rinse with a slight bit of vigor. Pat the gizzards dry. Place a pot of medium size onto the stove with your fat of choice. Add the gizzards to the pot and turn your stove top’s flame to a medium-low. When the gizzards start to be nudged around a little by the increasing warmth of the fat, place the pot into the oven and let the mixture slowly roll around for 3 hours. Remove the gizzards from the stove and let cool in the fat.
For the Spiced Pecans: Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Bring another medium pot of water to the top of your stove and let the highest flame you have bring the water to a boil. Line a baking tray with some aluminum foil and lightly grease the foil. Slide the pecans into the boiling water and cook for 30-45 seconds. Strain the pecans from the water and place in a mixing bowl with the other ingredients. Let the pecans and spices fraternize together with several tosses in the air. Lay the pecans on the baking sheet and place into the oven. Roast the spiced nuts for 16-18 minutes or until they are golden and aromatic. Retrieve the pecans from your oven and let them cool just slightly before removing them from the pan.
For the Salad: Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Place a large skillet over high heat and add 2 Tablespoons of the liquid fat from your confit. When your pan starts to display its displeasure with some smoke, add a layer of Brussels sprouts to the skillet. Season the Brussels with a scant bit of salt and let the vegetable slightly char and brown by flaunting your amazing patience for not moving and fussing with the pan. Like a spoiled child that is crying, it’s best to just leave them be to get their respect. Repeat this process for all the Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes and any adolescents that you feel need an attitude adjustment. After each batch of vegetable gets browned, spread them out onto one baking tray. Place your tray full of all the Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes and parental advice into the oven and roast the vegetables for 15 minutes. While the vegetables are roasting, add another 2 Tablespoons of confit fat to the skillet on high heat and place a layer of bread cubes into the skillet. These children need a little interactive encouragement. So every 30 seconds or so toss the bread around the skillet to brown and crisp as many sides of the cubes as possible. Place the cubes into a large salad bowl and repeat your actions until all the bread is toasted.
Remove the vegetables from the oven and place into the bowl with the bread. One last time, introduce your skillet to the high flame and add 2 Tablespoons of confit fat along with 2 Tablespoons of olive oil. Lay the gizzards into the skillet with the shallot. As the gizzards take on a new personality with a touch of crispiness, add the mustard, vinegar, cane syrup and a few twists of freshly ground black pepper. Bring the skillet to a simmer and pour into your salad bowl with no hesitation. Grab the pecan from the counter and toss those in also. With a bit of revelry, juggle the salad by tossing it into the air to the delights and high-wire gasps of your friends. Place the salad into a large serving bowl or on separate plates if one of your guest’s hygiene is less than desirable.