Beef confit by Jonathon Stranger with orange – eggplant – fig

When making this beef confit, be sure to prepare the confited Mesquite-Smoked Beef Bellies, the Dandelion Gel and Charred Eggplant Purée in advance.

Mesquite-Smoked Beef Bellies


  • 18 lbs lean beef bellies (navels), preferably 100% grass-fed
  • mesquite wood, for smoking
  • 6 cups sugar
  • 6 cups Kosher salt
  • 2 cups fresh lavender, chopped

Day One

Start by making your Lavender Dry Rub (curing mix). Combine sugar, Kosher salt and lavender together in a bowl, making sure to use your fingertips to really break the lavender up into the sugar and salt. The dry cure mixture should take on a slightly greenish tint.

Rub the beef bellies with a generous amount of the lavender rub to cure them, then place them in a large storage container and refrigerate overnight.

Day Two

Remove the beef bellies from the cure and rinse out the container. Apply a fresh coating of the Lavender Dry Rub and return the bellies to the refrigerator or walk-in cold storage.

Day Three

Rinse the dry rub cure off of the beef bellies and pat dry.

Set up your stovetop smoker with mesquite wood on low heat. Smoke the beef bellies for 35 minutes. Once done, remove from heat and allow to rest before you start confiting the meat.

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Orange & Thyme-Spiced Confit


  • 4 oranges, thinly sliced
  • 8 dry pasilla peppers
  • 2 bunches of fresh thyme
  • ¼ cup of Indonesian long peppers, toasted
  • Tallow (rendered beef fat), enough to cover the beef bellies
  • a large hotel pan

Preheat the oven to 300ºF. Meanwhile, render your beef fat if not using tallow.

Place the beef bellies in a large hotel pan and cover them with the warm (rendered) beef fat. Add the orange segments, pasilla peppers, thyme and long peppers to the pan and confit the beef bellies in the oven for 1½ hours at 300ºF. Once done, transfer the pan of beef bellies in tallow to the refrigerator or walk-in cold storage to finish confiting overnight.

When ready to serve, slice the beef bellies into ¾-inch by ¾-inch cubes. Sear to order.

Charred Eggplant Purée (prepare ahead)


  • 1 large eggplant, sliced in half length-wise.
  • 1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tsp fish sauce (preferably Red Boat 40ºN)
  • 2 tsps elephant garlic, smoked
  • 1 leaf of fresh basil
  • salt, to sweat the eggplant

Day Three

Sweat the eggplant halves overnight by rubbing them with salt to release excess moisture.

Day Four

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

The next day, sear the eggplant halves flesh-side down until the surfaces have consistently charred. Transfer the eggplant halves to sheet trays and bake them in the oven for 40 minutes. Once done, scoop out all of the flesh into a large mixing bowl and season with the smoked elephant garlic, lemon juice, fish sauce and basil. Transfer the mixture to a VitaMix and purée until smooth. Reserve and set aside.

fig coffee cocoa chocolate pairing by jonathon stranger

Coffee, Fig & Chocolate Glaze (serves 10)


  • 1 pint dry Armenian figs, stems removed and quartered
  • ¼ cup shallots, finely diced
  • 1 quart red table wine
  • 3 cups strong coffee
  • 2 tbsps creme de cacao
  • ½ cup sorghum syrup
  • ½ cup Callebaut dark chocolate nibs
  • sunflower oil, for cooking

Coat the bottom of a medium-sized sauce pot with a thin layer of sunflower oil and slowly sweat the shallots and figs together. Once the figs are evenly caramelized, add red wine to deglaze the sauce pot. Reduce heat and simmer the mixture until you have slightly less than a cup. Next, add the coffee and creme de cacao. Reduce the mixture by half.

Finish the glaze by adding the sorghum syrup and increase the temperature, then slowly stir in the chocolate nibs. Once melted, remove the Coffee, Fig & Chocolate Glaze from heat and set aside until ready to use.

Roasted Peanuts


  • 2 qts raw peanuts
  • ½ cup peanut oil
  • sea salt, to taste
  • malt powder, to taste

Preheat the oven to 450ºF.

Toss the peanuts in a mixing bowl with peanut oil and season liberally with sea salt and malt powder, to taste. Transfer the peanuts to a baking tray and roast them for 8 to 10 minutes at 450ºF. Once done, remove the peanuts from the oven and allow to cool to room to room temperature.

Carefully pulse the roasted peanuts in a food processor until they turn to a loose powder. (Do this gently and move the mixture around with a spoon for even processing, if you have to, so that you don’t end up with peanut butter!) Reserve and set aside.

Dandelion Gel (makes 1 quart)


  • 40 dandelion flowers
  • 10 slices of lemon, very thinly sliced
  • 4 cups of water
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 tbsps granulated sugar
  • 3 tbsps agar powder
  • a 1 qt glass jar with lid, sterilized

Day One

Place the flowers and lemon slices in a 1 quart-sized glass jar.

In a large sauce pot, bring the water to a boil and add the 2 cups of sugar. Stir until the sugar has completely dissolved. Once the water comes back up to a boil, remove from heat and slowly pour the boiling syrup over the dandelion flowers and lemon slices in the glass jar. Allow to cool slightly and then transfer, uncovered, to the refrigerator or cold storage. Once chilled, cover the jar with a lid and reserve in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days to allow the flavors to infuse.

Day Four

In a small bowl, mix 3 tablespoons of sugar with 3 tablespoons of agar. Reserve and set aside.

Remove the lid from the glass jar and sieve the dandelion-infused syrup directly into a blender. Now add the sugar and agar powdered mixture to the syrup and blend on low for a minute.

Pour the dandelion syrup into a medium-sized sauce pot and bring to a boil, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer to a glass bowl to cool. Once cool, return the Dandelion Gel to the blender and blend once more for extra-smooth consistency. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

“Bitter & Sweet” Beef Confit


  • Orange-Spice Beef Confit (recipe above)
  • Coffee, Fig & Chocolate Glaze (recipe above)
  • Charred Eggplant Purée (recipe above)
  • Roasted Peanuts (recipe above)
  • Dandelion Gel (recipe above)
  • fresh dill fronds, for garnish
  • whole mustard flowers, for garnish

To serve, spoon a bed of the Charred Eggplant Purée onto a plate. Position the Orange-Spice Beef Confit over the purée. Next, spoon the Coffee, Fig & Chocolate Glaze over the beef belly and sprinkle with Roasted Peanuts. Finish with a drizzle of the Dandelion Gel and some fresh dill fronds and whole mustard flowers, as garnish. Repeat for each serving.

Jonathon Stranger

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