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Chef Thomas Keller’s Confit Eggplant and Garlic Recipe
- 3 Chinese eggplants
- 12 garlic cloves, peeled, stems trimmed
- 2 liters neutral-flavored plant-based oil
- Bouquet garni (see tip)
- Kosher salt
- Aged balsamic vinegar, for serving
- Fresh oregano or herbs of your choice, for serving
- Maldon sea salt, for serving
- Cutting board
- Chef’s knife
- Baking dish
- 4-quart saucepot for heating oil
- Sheet pan, lined with paper towels
- Wire cake rack (as needed)
- Preheat the oven to 300ºF.
- Begin by removing the tops and bottoms of the eggplants and then cutting them in half lengthwise. Score their flesh in a crosshatch pattern and lightly salt them so that the salt can penetrate the flesh and draw out moisture and bitterness.
- Rest flesh side down 25 minutes on a paper towel–lined sheet pan.
- Lay eggplants flesh side down in the baking dish and add the garlic and bouquet garni.
- Heat oil to 250°F then carefully ladle the oil over the eggplants. If the eggplants float, you may add a wire cake rack over the eggplants to keep them submerged.
- Put the baking dish into the oven and check for tenderness after 45 minutes. The ideal texture of the eggplant should be creamy and have no resistance.
- If serving right away, remove the eggplants and garlic and allow them to drain on a paper towel–lined sheet pan. Chef Keller suggests using the remaining oil in vinaigrettes or in sautéeing since it hasn’t reached its smoke point and is still useable. Arrange the eggplants on a serving platter along with the confit garlic.
- Finish with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, herbs of your choice, and a sprinkling of Maldon salt.
For prolonged storage up to 1 week, keep the eggplant submerged in the oil in an airtight container inside the refrigerator.
Tip: Turn and trim 3 leek leaves, 5 Italian parsley sprigs, 5 thyme sprigs, and 2 bay leaves. Wrap the herbs in cheesecloth then tie in bundles for bouquet garni.