If you’re looking for something a bit different, completely savory and sumptuous and more than a bit over the top, this is the meal for you. Preparation is relatively simple and the flavors are something that most only experience in high-end establishments, thinking that something of this caliber could never be prepared in a home kitchen. While there is a bit of long-term preparation involved the process really isn’t all that hard, it’s just the big fancy name that makes it sound daunting.
To quote the Grand Dame of the American Culinary Revolution:
“Non-cooks think it’s silly to invest two hours’ work in two minutes’ enjoyment; but if cooking is evanescent, so is the ballet.” ~ Julia Child
For most people, confit automatically brings to mind images of something cooked in duck or goose fat. While this is the current trend, confit is actually a much simpler premise than that. The definition of confit is quite simple:
Confit: [kohn-FEE] A meat slow cooked in its own fat with spices. Or a jam-like sweet spread.
In using this definition, anything cooked in its own fat is a confit, and to be tied to only using duck or goose fat would be a crying shame, since chicken confit is probably the simplest of all to make with just ingredients from your local BigScaryMegaMart, namely chicken leg quarters.
You know the ones. You’ve seen them before. They sit in the poultry section in a forlorn ten pound sack, partially packed in an impotent brine. These are the byproducts of the American love of the boneless-skinless chicken breast, cast off to obscurity because someone convinced an entire nation that white meat was the best meat. In this case their loss is our gain.
The chicken sold in bulk bags is mostly from roasting chickens. Roasting chicken are larger birds with a higher fat to body mass ratio and because of this have become less popular in today’s marketplace. Bulk chicken is also not trimmed for excess fat, it’s just sold by weight, meaning that the producers are not interested in making it look pretty. It’s perfect for confit and it usually costs around $4.00 for 10 lbs of chicken! The rest is almost blissfully simple.
So step out of your comfort zone for a moment and take a journey with me to the land of gourmet, where with just a bit of time and effort the most humble ingredients transform themselves into something more than you could have ever imagined where flavors and aromas transcend the parts that make up the whole and become something entirely wonderful. The experience may only last a few moments, but it is very much worth the effort.
Chicken confit is possibly the easiest thing you can make at home. Decadent, YES! But oh so worth it.
- 1 lb of thin spaghetti style pasta. (use what you like, this is what I had)
- Approximately 3/4 lb chicken confit (*method below)
- 1/2 large red onion, chopped
- 6 oz. crimini (Baby-Bella) mushrooms, sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups broccoli florets, cut into small, uniform florets
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese for sauce, plus more for service
- 4 tbsp parsley, chopped fine, for garnish
- 1/4 cup dry Sherry
- 2-4 tbsp confit liquid
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- Salt and Pepper to taste
Add pasta to a large pot of boiling salted water.
Heat olive oil in a very large skillet over medium high heat. Add mushrooms and cook until they are a deep golden brown. Add onions and saute until translucent (about 3 minutes), add garlic and broccoli. Stir frequently until broccoli reaches desired tenderness. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Drain Pasta, allowing noodles to become nearly dry.
Remove skillet from flame and add Sherry (Do not attempt over flame, the Sherry may flare, causing severe injury), return to heat and allow mixture to reduce by half. Add 2 to 4 Tbsp of the reserved confit liquid to skillet and stir through. Mixture should be very wet. If not, add a bit more liquid. heat until simmering vigorously. Add chicken confit and allow to heat through.
Add pasta to skillet and toss gently to avoid breaking up the chicken. Add Parmesan cheese, toss a few more times and plate.
Sprinkle with some more Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley.
Serve piping hot and enjoy!
Place as many chicken leg quarters as will fit into a single layer in a roasting pan or high-sided baking dish, skin side up. Pack tightly, beating the little buggers into place is acceptable. Drizzle with about a tablespoon of olive oil and just a splash of chicken stock. (This is just to get the process started, it will evaporate within a few minutes.)
Season the chicken pieces with a little salt and throw on some rosemary sprigs or herbs of your choice. (Only use fresh herbs. Dried will not give good results). Place dish in a 220°F oven and walk away for at least an hour.
Check the dish at one hour. you should notice that the chicken is very nearly floating in its own fat by now. This is a good thing! Check to make sure the fat is not going to drop over. If your dish is too full, skim enough fat to make things safe, discard it, and walk away, checking periodically on fat levels, for the next two hours. (Don’t worry, it won’t dry out!)
Turn the heat up to 350°F and cook until chicken skin is golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool in the fat. (This is important!)
When chicken can be handled, remove meat from bones and place in an airtight container. Either toss skin in a skillet and make all crispy-yummy for a very unhealthy snack, or discard. Discard herbs. Pour over enough fat to cover. Store refrigerated for up to a month or frozen indefinitely.
When ready to use, simply defrost in the fridge and place in a saucepan over low heat to liquefy the fat.
What I would have done differently had I thought of it at the time:
Don’t even ask me this question. I’d pay $20.00 for a plate of this in any restaurant in the world. it doesn’t need fixin’
Links to other recipes like this:
- A ridiculously expensive disaster, aka Chicken Confit, from Cooking up a Storm