If the word “confit” (pronounced con-fee), reminds you of the Afrikaans konfyt (jam), don’t be embarrassed – you’re not far off. Confit means to preserve, which is exactly what jam is – preserved fruit, onion, tomato, or whatever incarnation you prefer. While syrupy jams and preserves are classified as condiment confits, when applied to meats of any kind, confit implies any food that has been cooked over an extended period of time over a relatively low heat in oil or grease. Think duck confit (cooked in its own fat), potato confit (also cooked in duck fat), or artichoke confit (in olive oil). But as rich as confit sounds, there’s nothing keeping you from creating something light and fresh from a confit dish. Yes, this is not everyday cooking, but when you’re looking for the perfect show-off lunch (complete with a crusty French loaf and a bottle or three of Chardonnay), call off the search!
Considering the quality of ingredients used in this dish, you don’t want to rush it, so give yourself enough time. If you’re planning to make it as a lunch, start at 9. That doesn’t mean you’ll be stuck in the kitchen for all that time, though. Simply make a bed of fresh fennel, ginger, thyme, lemon rind, chilli, bay leaves and peppercorns on which to rest the salmon, submerge everything in oil and let it marinate for two hours in the fridge while you pop out to get the wine and bread. When you come back, take it out of the fridge (letting the wine take the casserole’s place) and let it return to room temperature before popping the whole casserole in the oven. At this point, you’re only about 20 minutes away from serving…
½ fennel bulb, thinly sliced
2 slices of stem ginger
1 green chili
6 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
rind of 1 lemon, without pith
6 whole peppercorns
4 salmon fillets
500 ml olive oil
canola oil to cover
for the salad
200 g fresh peas
8 fresh Brussels sprouts
2 baby butter lettuce, cut in half
confit salmon fillets
salt and freshly ground black pepper
for the salmon and fennel confit
Place the fennel, ginger, chilli, thyme, bay leaves, lemon peel, peppercorns and salmon in a 26 cm Le Creuset Signature Round Casserole.
Add the olive oil first and then cover all the ingredients with canola oil.
Cover the casserole with lid and place it in the fridge for 2 hours to marinate.
Take it out and set it aside until the oil mixture reaches room temperature (about 1 hour).
Preheat the oven to 90 °C. Take the lid off the casserole and place it in the oven for 12 – 15 minutes. (Note: If you like your salmon slightly more well done, leave it in for another 5 minutes.) Then, take it out and set it aside for 20 minutes.
for the salad
Place the peas in a bowl, cover them with boiling water and let them soak until just soft before draining them.
Arrange the lettuce on a platter, scatter the peas over the lettuce, carefully remove the fennel and salmon from the casserole and arrange on the platter.
Break the Brussels sprout leaves off their bulbs and decorate the platter.
Slice the limes in half and fry them (open side down) in a pan until brown, and serve them with the salad.
Season with salt and pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.