Friday, October 21, 2011

Favorite French Things Friday - Antique Confit Pots (Pots de Confit)

Before I tell you about French confit pots (Pots de confit), I first want you to know what confit is. The classic French confit recipe is "pieces of duck slowly cooked in its own fat until meltingly tender, then stored in the same fat."  Hmmmmmm, tasty sounding huh? Antique confit pots were originally designed as a container in which to store the duck and duck fat before modern refrigeration was available.

These beautiful earthenware containers have, for years, been a signature of the French gourmet and Provencal kitchen and were typically glazed with a rich mustard or honey colored slip glaze.  The warm patina of these confit pots developed over the passage of time and with the help of Mother Nature. The chips and imperfections on the pots are a testament to their utilitarian history and frequent use.

If you look below the beautiful mustard or honey glaze on the confit pot, you will see that the lower part of the pottery was left unglazed. This is because, after the cooking process, the urn was typically sealed and buried in the cool ground or stored in stone-lined larders. This storage process preserved the meat without refrigeration. Throughout the winter, the confit pots would be opened and the meat contained within enjoyed!

Today, antique confit pots are used for decoration and treasured for their earthy beauty and rich coloration. They are displayed to add Provencal charm and character to a room and remind us of the warmth of sun drenched Provence.  When I look at them, I immediately think of the sunflower fields of Provence, Vincent van Gogh's  "Twelve Sunflowers" and bright, warm afternoon sunlight.

"Twelve Sunflowers" by Vincent van Gogh.

The antique French confit pots above are in the television room of MFFC.  MH and I lovingly hand carried these back on the airplane after visiting our daughter in April, 2003.  The one on the left (with the pouring spout) was also used to hold olive oil.

Notice the line at which the mustard-colored glaze ends. This is the point at which the pot would be buried in the cool ground to keep the duck confit "refrigerated."

Antique French mustard glazed confit pot on a round 19th century French table. (Country French Decorating magazine, Spring/Summer 2007.)

Antique French mustard glazed confit pot on French baker's rack with baskets and clay gardening pots. (Country Living magazine, September 2006.)

Antique French mustard glazed confit pots on round French wine tasting table. (Country French Decorating magazine, Fall/Winter 2007.)

By the way,  you may also see antique French confit pots glazed in a dark green color; however, the mustard or honey glaze was used most often.  Also, when I first saw these pots, I was told that they were called "Mustard Jars."

Have a wonderful Fall weekend!

Au revoir, Mitty


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