Foodie Friday and I have duck confit on the brain.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
It’s one of my favorite foods and as I’m writing this I’m in the process of making a batch after one of my friends gave me a tub of duck fat. Stop making freaked out noises. You’ve probably had lots of stuff fried in duck fat without knowing it. It’s one of the professional kitchen’s secret weapons.
Duck confit is duck legs that are cured, usually in salt and spices, for a day and then the cure is removed and the legs are roasted at a low temperature covered in their own fat. The resulting product can be kept for months. You can confit anything but to me duck legs are the absolute pinnacle of the technique. After all, fat is flavor and what could be more flavorful than food cooked in fat!
I think there is a lot to learn about business from confit. After all, what is fat but stored energy? They are also essential in preventing disease. So much for all you sickly, skinny folks! Every business person can benefit from the confit treatment when it comes to their business.
Think about it. Immersing one’s self in the stored energy of the work. Recognizing that this immersion will focus you, letting you pay attention to the important stuff and that the needs and priorities will change day by day. Too many of us try to stay aloof in order to see the big picture. Not a bad idea but getting immersed – letting the stored energy of the business cover you – can be a perspective change too, one that can prove beneficial. As mentioned above, fat is flavor, and that immersion in the essence of the business can’t help but add to your understanding.
The magic of confit is that is intensifies the flavors, brings out the essences, and holds them for a long time. Doesn’t that sound like something from which a business can benefit too?
For our Foodie Friday Fun this week, let’s examine confit and what it tells us about business.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I’m thinking specifically of duck confit, one of my favorite foods, but the process is often used with fruit or vegetables such as onion or garlic. For those of you who’ve never experienced it, duck confit is made by salting the duck, generally legs, and letting it cure with some herbs for a day or so. The salt is removed and then the legs are poached in their own fat at a low heat. In a way, it’s a fancy version of barbecue where meat is spiced, left to cure a bit, and then slowly smoked to add flavor and render the fat. The result is a rich-tasting product that can be heated (particularly to crisp the skin) and eaten as is or shredded to use in other dishes.
Interesting, you say, but what does this have to do with business? The beauty of confit to me is that the key to the dish isn’t fancy external additions but, rather, the technique. The main ingredients – the meat and the fat – are right there when you begin (OK, you might need some additional duck fat to cover the legs when cooking but stay with me here). That lesson is often lost on us in business.
It’s hard for someone who makes a living parachuting in to help companies to say this, but more often than not the keys to success are already in place. What happens is that managers tend to make things too complicated by searching for external resources or solutions when the ingredients they need are already on hand. Confiting something is nothing more than a deep, gentle immersion in something that’s already there – fat for meats, sugar for fruit. Instead of cutting off the fat and discarding it since it’s often seen as a problem, it becomes the key to the dish. How much better off would many businesses be if they allowed all of their resources to shine instead of writing them off as “just” an accountant or secretary or junior analyst?
There’s a Shakespeare quote of which I’ve always been fond – “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves…” That’s confit, and good business advice in a nutshell. What’s your take?