Earlier this week, I made some pork loin confit with a recipe from the excellent book Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing. While not a fermentation confit (cooking something long and low submerged in rendered fat) has all the elements I love in a project: process, time, and delicious results.
The first step was to use a food processor to make a paste of herbs (parsley, bay, and sage), garlic, shallots, black pepper, and 2 tbls salt. This paste was rubbed onto a nice pork loin, and left to cure in the refrigerator for 2 days, turning once every 12 hours. You then rinse the herbs off and pat the meat dry.
When I was ready to cook, I melted three tubs of lard in my dutch oven. When the fat got to 200 degrees I submerged the pork loin in the fat and put it into a preheated 200 degree oven uncovered (to allow any moisture a way out). Three and a half hours later I took the pot out of the oven and put the pork and enough of the still liquid fat to cover it, into a smaller pan and then into the refrigerator.
Two days later I pulled the pork out of the fat and spiced it into 1/8 inch slices. I pan fried the slices in a bit of the lard to heat them up and give them a bit of color and texture. Another option would be to roast the whole loin, but pan frying is quicker and allows you to save some for sandwiches the next day.
The meat was excellent, good porky flavor with the herbs/spices infused throughout. The texture was rather tender, but not fall apart-y (although the darker meat was close). Next time around I'll use shoulder (Boston butt), which has more connective tissue and should make for an even more tender results (it takes closer to 5-6 hours in the oven to break down the extra connective tissue).
I also made some no-knead sourdough bread. The recipe is amazingly easy: mix together 3 cups of flour, 1.5 cups water, 1.5 tsp salt, and some sourdough starter (or 1/4 tsp dried yeast). Let it rise for 19 hours, then dust with cornmeal or wheat germ and shape into a round loaf and let rise for another 2 hours. Then cook 30 minutes in a dutch oven preheated in a 500 degree oven. Uncover for the last 10 minutes to let any steam escape and crisp the crust. The bread had an excellent irregular crumb, with a terrific crunchy crust. The long slow rise allows the yeast to do the work of kneading for you, the CO2 bubbles they produce stretch the dough creating gluten. The longer rise time also gives plenty of time for the sourdough microbes to do their thing.
We had a nice vinegary salad (not pictured) with clementines, dried cranberries, and walnuts to help cut the rich confit. To drink we had plenty of good beers (and some French cider for my non-beer drinking roommate). We had White Gold from Ithaca with the main course, but it just wasn't funky enough for my tastes. The year old bottle of Ommegeddon was much better, as was the bottle of Cuvee de Ranke we had after the meal to cleans our pallets. I also opened up bottles of Cuvee Tomme and my Cuvee Tomme clone. My clone was nice but the sweet cherries didn't POP in the same way that the sour cherries do in the original.