Culinary Arts

Chef Thomas Keller’s Confit Eggplant and Garlic Recipe

Written by MasterClass

Apr 29, 2019 • 1 min read

A confit is a technique traditionally used to preserve meats by cooking them in their own fat. The best-known example is duck confit. But the term “confit” can be used to describe any ingredient, including vegetables, that has been slow-cooked in fat at a low temperature.

Here, Chef Thomas Keller uses oil to confit Chinese eggplant and garlic, a technique that will impart a creamy, succulent texture to both. The same idea can be implemented to preserve a variety of vegetables so that they can be enjoyed beyond their season.

Pro tip: start saving the fat from dishes like Chef Keller’s Agnolotti Recipe With Peas and Bacon or best fried chicken recipe for a confit. You can consider serving your upgraded eggplant and garlic alongside his creamy mushroom polenta.

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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

Equipment:

  • Cutting board
  • Chef’s knife
  • Baking dish
  • Thermometer
  • 4-quart saucepot for heating oil
  • Ladle
  • Spatula
  • Sheet pan, lined with paper towels
  • Wire cake rack (as needed)
  1. Preheat the oven to 300ºF.
  2. 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.
  3. Rest flesh side down 25 minutes on a paper towel–lined sheet pan.
  4. Lay eggplants flesh side down in the baking dish and add the garlic and bouquet garni.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.