Chicken Confit

Best. Chicken. Ever

Active time: 20 minutes • Total time: 2 days

Posted on Nov 27, 2015 by Jack McCann
Tags: recipes chicken drumsticks sous vide thigh

What is Confit?

Confit is an increasingly popular but traditional French way of curing, cooking and preserving meat. I can’t believe I lived so long without making it before. It always sounded like it was too much work. Then our friend Carl was over helping process our ducks and shared his passion for confit. We made up our own confit duck and loved it.

I decided to try some confit chicken for a family Christmas party and it turned out FANTASTIC. This takes a bit of planning ahead, but is a fairly simple way to make lots of fantastic food!

I recommend having a Sous Vide machine, but it isn't required. 

Step 1: Cure

Basically the idea here is to partially cure the chicken and infuse some flavor.

  1. Place a cooling rack on top of a baking sheet
  2. Mix up a good amount of the following and sprinkle liberally onto every surface of the meat. Then place each piece onto the rack.
    • Sea salt
    • Herbs (I like thyme but anything works)
    • Garlic (either a powder or finely chopped cloves… I used powder for ease but often skip this ingredient)
    • Sugar is traditionally used, we skipped it
  3. Place the sheet, rack and chicken uncovered in the fridge for one to four days.

(Lauren with duck confit)

Step 2A, Traditional method: Rinse and cook in stockpot 

  1. Rinse the chicken under cool running water. Most (but not all) of the salt on the outside will be removed.
  2. Tightly arrange the chicken in a stockpot.
  3. Put enough coconut oil and/or lard on top so that when it is melted all of the meat will be submerged in the fat (poached in fat)
  4. Cover and bake at 175 degrees for 8-14 hours or until tender.
  5. After a few hours, check that the chicken is fully covered in fat, add more fat if it seems additional is needed.
  6. When done, strain and separate the fat to reuse. 

    Alternatively you could sous vide this recipe.  This simplifies it a bit:

Step 2B, Modern method: Consider a simpler approach 

  1. Rinse the chicken under cool running water.
  2. Tightly arrange the chicken in a ziplock or vacuum sealable bag
  3. Melt some coconut oil, lard, butter or other oil and place about 1/2 C of fat per pound of chicken into the bag.
  4. Remove all the air and seal the bag.
  5. Preheat some water in a pot large enough to submerge the bag, about 180 degrees
  6. Place the bag into the water and put a glass bowl or cup over it to keep submerged
  7. Place pot into 170-180 degree oven for 10-12 hours (or sous vide to this temp)
  8. Store in your fridge for 1-2 weeks, freeze or enjoy right away. To serve, crisp up the skin and enjoy or use in a cassoulet.
  9. Keep the juice/fat in the bag and place into the fridge. It will solidify on top and you can pull it off to reuse.

Step 3: Enjoy

The meat can be eaten right away, or it can be stored in your fridge, fully submerged in the fat for months (and years actually). It would actually keep just fine at room temp as well. Take the meat out and grill or sear to crisp up the skin… yum!

Alternatively, you can pull the meat from the bones and freeze like any other meat. This is an ideal way to make up a bunch of food all at once and later pull it out of the freezer for a quick and fantastic meal. Every year we pre-cook and freeze a lot of chicken for quick winter meals, this is now be my preferred method.

In Minnesota, we’re all familiar with cheesy, bland casseroles… but like nearly every food, the traditional recipes that inspired modern dishes were SO much better. I had some of Carl’s duck confit cassoulet and it was fantastic (a cassoulet is the traditional use of confit) . Consider finding a recipe online and use your confit chicken for that… or just eat the chicken with some wine, cheese and a good sour dough bread like I did on my last flight for work in California -- Those silly first class passengers had nothing on my meal!   

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