Chicken confit holds a special place in my heart, since it reminds me of the delectable confit de canard or duck confit that I ate in France. It might just be one of my favorite French dishes. (If you want to see more pictures of this delicious Parisian dinner, you can check out this post that I wrote at the time.)
Some of you might be wondering, what is confit? Confit is an age old process for cooking and preserving meats. It’s a simple process that involves slow cooking a meat in its own fat. The fat and long cooking time make the meat incredibly tender and juicy. Since duck and duck fat are not readily available, I decided to make confit from chicken and olive oil. I marinated the chicken for two days in salt, pepper, garlic, bay leaves, and olive oil before slowly cooking it in the oven for 10 hours. The meat was falling off the bone!
For this particular batch of chicken confit, I used chicken thighs and drumsticks. I usually prefer leg quarters, but they were nowhere to be found the day before Christmas.
15 chicken drumsticks, excess fat trimmed
15 chicken thighs, excess fat trimmed
3 tbs kosher salt
1 1/2 tbs dried thyme or 10 sprigs fresh
1 tsp ground black pepper
15 garlic cloves
12 bay leaves
2.5 quarts olive oil
Note: This batch makes quite a bit of chicken confit (gotta love the holidays!) If you’re looking to make less chicken confit, I would recommend 4 leg quarters, 1 tablespoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, 6 garlic cloves, 4 bay leaves, and 3 cups of olive oil. For the oil, it’s important that there is enough to fully cover the chicken.
In a tray or platter, place the chicken pieces skin side down. Sprinkle with salt, black pepper, and thyme. Place the garlic cloves and bay leaves among the chicken pieces. Place the remaining chicken on top (making two layers of chicken), skin side up. Sprinkle with salt, black pepper, and thyme. Put the remaining garlic cloves and bay leaves with the chicken.
Cover the chicken and keep it in the fridge for 24 hours.
Remove the chicken from the fridge, rinse with cold water, and pat dry with paper towels. Conserve the bay leaves and garlic. Place the chicken in a deep pan or enameled cast iron pot (I used a large foil pan since it was the biggest pan I had). Sprinkle each layer of chicken with a few teaspoons of salt. Place the conserved bay leaves and garlic among the chicken pieces.
Pour the olive oil over the chicken, until all of the pieces are submerged. Cover the chicken, and let it cook at 225 degrees F for 10-12 hours, or until the meat pulls away from the bone.
When the chicken is done cooking, remove from the olive oil, and enjoy! The excess oil can be stored in the refrigerator and used for cooking.
Optional: I decided to spice up the confit by adding a few final touches and an extra hint of flavor! Place the chicken in a single layer on a flat tray (or two). In a small bowl, mix 2 tbsp of lemon with a 1/2 tsp of turmeric and a 1/2 tsp of paprika. Lightly brush the skin of the chicken with the mixture. Place the chicken in the oven, and let it broil for 5-10 minutes or until the chicken develops a crisp, golden layer. Bon appétit!