Confit up in this motha

If you ever want to eat really, really, really good food, get a whole gaggle of culinary students in your kitchen with a series of ingredients, and then get them f*cked up. Because the drive for munchies will make you do some crazy stuff, and if you’re in culinary school, that crazy stuff tends to take the form of ri-damn-diculous food.

On Saturday, Chris and I had some people over from my class: From the left, Kyle, Raphael, Brandon, Chris, Carino, and Raphael’s girlfriend who is not in our class (I guess Chris isn’t either, but he’s my sous, so I’m letting him be named). In retrospect, I should have set the camera on auto and put myself in the picture, too, but I wasn’t thinking extra-straight, if you get my drift.

Kyle walked in and immediately began to confit the duck legs I’d had curing in salt, bay, thyme, and pepper for the past 3 days. For those of you who haven’t reached a state of culinary euphoria in this manner, duck confit is basically a duck leg, with moisture removed, stewed at a low temperature in a vat of duck fat. It preserves the duck, and turns it into a rich, decadent, silky, and completely unreasonably high-calorie treat. It can sit in its own fat for months, in fact getting better in that time, because it’s been completely preserved. Like canning. But better. I mean it. If you haven’t had duck confit, seek it out and eat it post haste, because I had never made it before, and it was worth every delicious minute. I mean, there really aren’t adequate words…

Brandon rolled out some killer barbecue sauce with chipotle peppers, cider vinegar, sesame oil, brown sugar, molasses, and God only knows what else. Raphael and Carino made some solid pineapple-mango salsa, after being given a tray of mise en place and a wistful and pleading look from me. I love mango salsa.

Chris and I? We were in charge of the smoking. Meats, I mean. I rubbed both a whole brisket and a rack of ribs in a basic spice rub, let them sit overnight, and got up at 4 a.m. to put them in the smoker with a buttload of hickory. They smoked for over 8 hours, then were brought in and attacked with forks. Also, sometimes fingers. The smoke ring on those ribs was unreal. The outside fat was all crackled with a spicy/salty rub, and the inside meat just fell apart at the slightest provocation. Dipped in that barbecue sauce, it was pure ambrosia.

This stuff got DEVOURED, all while watching old Disney skits that smacked of political incorrectness, drinking mojitos, mimosas, and other formations that marched out of the liquor cabinet, and general shenanigans. By the time it was all over, it was only about 4 p.m. and it felt like it had been a full day. A full day of awesome food and good times. I’m happy.

Today, Chris and I just took it easy. We went for a gentle run in the morning, covering 4 miles and feeling every individual step of it, then went to Barnes and Noble for a bit, and ate meatloaf while watching Hellboy II. Relaxation–soooo niiiice. And I have tomorrow off, too. I cannot believe my good luck.

I made the meatloaf in my Twinkie pan because it felt like the right thing to do. Am I the only one who thinks that any and all baking pans are okay for using in any and all applications? Like, how come I can’t make mini loaves of bread? Or bake cookies in a round cake pan? I’m very lazy about pan selection. So we had jalapeno and cumin meatloaves on a bed of cilantro polenta and drizzled with a tomato and red bell pepper coulis that may or may not have contained a bit of duck fat (COME ON! Like you wouldn’t have done it…) Oh, and warm-from-the-oven sourdough rolls with roasted garlic creme fraiche. And some candied lemon butter. Sometimes, I love food so much it makes me tear up a little bit.

I’ve noticed things that would gross most people out are now little opportunities for flavor-parties. Like when I lifted up the solid 5 pound disc of duck fat and legs and found an inch of brown jelly jiggling underneath, instead of being all “EW! WTF?” I thought to myself “Oooh! That’s got to be packed with collagen and flavor and slow-simmered perfection. I’m making a sauce with it.” Do any of you notice that the more foodie you become, the more you see ick and think mmmm? Clams don’t count.

And I made pickles today.