Over the weekend, I tried an amazing recipe I found in Sunset magazine (on of the two magazines I read regularly) for Chicken Confit. In a nutshell, chicken confit is chicken legs braised in chicken/duck fat, then fried. It’s wildly decadent but not actually that hard to do. Here’s my version of their recipe:
Image courtesy of Sunset Magazine
4 chicken legs with thighs
8 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
4 large sprigs fresh thyme
2 quarts duck fat
1. Pat the chicken dry and coat it with salt and pepper. Put in a 5-quart dutch oven (I love my Le Creuset one!) and arrange garlic and thyme sprigs on top. Cover and chill at least 12 hours and up to 18.
2. Preheat oven to 200°. Add duck fat to chicken; warm on stovetop over lowest heat, covered, until fat is melted, about 30 minutes. It should completely cover chicken; if it doesn’t, add more. Bake until meat is very tender when pierced, at least 8 hours and up to 12.
3. Using tongs and a spatula, transfer chicken to a plate and spoon fat into a frying pan.
4. Heat fat over medium heat until it reaches between 275° and 300°. If you don’t have a thermometer (I didn’t!), sprinkle a little water into the pain – if it sizzles, it’s ready. Add chicken legs, skin side down.
5. Cook until chicken is lightly browned and crisp, 10 to 12 minutes, turning once. Be careful when flipping – the chicken is really tender, and falls apart easily!
For my first attempt, I followed the recipe pretty closely, and while it was impressively good, I think it could have used more seasoning. I’d recommend using more spices during step 1 (really anything would do – maybe some taco seasoning to make gourmet chicken confit tacos, or some basil and oregano to make some kind of chicken pasta dish). I served mine over arugula alongside a poached egg*.
Another cool thing about confit is that it can actually keep for MONTHS in your fridge. After step 2 above, all you need to do is transfer the chicken to a container, cover it completely with fat, let the fat re-solidify, and then throw it in your fridge. When you’re ready to eat it, just follow steps 4 and 5 (you’ll want to scrape the solid fat off the chicken before putting it into the frying pan). I can see myself making a huge batch of this in the future, so that I can have chicken confit whenever it strikes my fancy.
*Incidentally, I also learned how to easily poach an egg this weekend. Turns out, there’s a crazy-easy way to do it using plastic wrap. Check out the video!