Friday, September 11, 2009
I Like Fat; A home cook's chicken confit recipe
I like it a lot. I like pancetta, bacon, pate, liver and all sorts of fatty meats. When confronted with goose or duck I eat the crisp skin and the fat first. Even in it's pure form I can find no fault with it be it butter, lard, or pure olive oil.
I won't touch margarine, hydrogenated versions or the questionable vegetable oil, but all natural fat is pretty much fair game.
There are multitudes of recipes for the classic preparation of duck confit on the web, besides which, I can't improve on Julia Child's step by step instructions. Unfortunately many home cooks don't have sufficient quantity of duck fat laying about but butter, I bet you've got butter.
This dish will wow your dinner guests and you may be surprised you made something so very good. It can be started a few days before the party and is very easy to finish just before serving. In addition you will have a good quantity of flavorful butter left over that will make you very happy for weeks afterward.
Keep in mind that there is no such thing as too much butter...
4 chicken thighs with drum attached (recipe can easily be doubled)
2 cups kosher salt (more if needed)
8 cloves garlic
4 tablespoons mixed Italian herbs
1 Jalapeno whole (choose a hotter pepper if you want more heat)
2 tablspoons crushed peppercorns
Mix all the seasoning as well as 4 tablespoons of the salt in the food processor to form a paste. Rub the chicken all over with the past making sure to get some under the skin. Make a bed of the remaining salt in a pan large enough for the chicken to lie flat. Place the chicken on the bed and fully cover with the rest of the salt (use more if needed). Place a plate on top of the chicken and refrigerate for 24 hours.
For the next step you will need 3/4 pound melted butter and 8 heads of garlic split in half as well as 8 strips of fatty bacon.
Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and rinse under cool water to remove excess salt. Pat dry with paper towels. You will see the salt left in the pan is very wet as the chicken has lost some of it's moisture, this is a good thing as we are replacing it with fat.
Place the open garlic on a casserole and place the dried chicken skin side up on top of the garlic cloves. Layer the bacon on top of the chicken.Pour butter over the chicken until not a bit of skin or chicken does not have a good layer of fat on top of it. The chicken should look like it is drowning in a pool of fat. Place in a 225 oven for 3 hours.
With a spatula carefully remove the chicken and place on a plate to cool. It will be VERY melty and tender so be careful. Strain the fat into a large tall container so that the fat will rise and any broth or solids will pool at the bottom. Cover the chicken and place both in the refrigerator until the next day. Resist the urge to pick.
If you want a real treat you can now crisp the bacon and make the best BLT you have ever had, or cover and save the bacon and use it on a bed of crisp greens. It's a delicious side treat.
Now comes the pleasure part.
You have all this lovely butter filled with flavor and chicken that cannot wait. Place the chicken in a nonstick pan over a low medium flame and warm and crisp it.
How you serve it is up to you. I can be taken off the bone and crisped and served over a bed of lightly dressed greens.
My favorite however is to get some of that lovely fat out and fry cubed new potatoes alongside the chicken. To serve this crisp chicken along with potatoes flavored in the fat is so decadent that you may eat all vegetables for the next few days. It is worth it.