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Author Notes: I remember the days when the word “confit” was a rare treat that I could only order at a fancy restaurant. Those were sad days. Luckily, my never-ending culinary curiosity led me to research how to make my own confit at home. I was surprised at how easy it was and how decadent and useful the results were. Wether you’re making duck, chicken, garlic or anything confit, the final product will keep in the fridge from several days and up to 3 weeks, depending on the type of fat you use, supplying you with incredibly delicious weeknight meals ready in minutes. Of course, duck fat renders fantastic results and keeps the longest, but I have found that two common pantry staples mixed together, olive and canola oil, work just as well and are much easier to work with and not to mention cheaper. I also really like using chicken thighs for several reasons: they are less fatty than duck but taste almost as rich when cooked confit style, the dark meat of the thighs falls right off the bone and is easily shreddable, you can fit more thighs in the pan using a minimal amount of oil and once again, they are MUCH cheaper.
The whole process takes a couple of days, but the actual hands on time is very short. Just throw the brine on the chicken on day 1 and leave in fridge overnight. The next morning rinse the chicken and pat dry, place in a roasting pan or slow cooker, add aromatics, cover with oil and cook low and slow for 6 or 8 hours, giving you just enough time to complete your house chores. Let cool and place back into the fridge until ready to use. Covered in the oil, the chicken has lasted me for up to a week, though it never makes it that long ;)
For a simple quick dinner, just heat a pan over medium heat, add some of the oil you saved (the oil gets flavored with the chicken and is super useful in the kitchen for the week too! Try using it to fry up some potatoes. YUM!) and cook skin side down first, to crisp the chicken. Serve with a light and refreshing salad, like an endive, watercress, citrus and goat cheese salad with a citrus vinaigrette (perfect for winter!). Or shred and throw into a mediterranean pasta or grain salad with black olives, sun dried tomatoes and arugula. Or mix some shredded chicken confit with buffalo sauce, top with refreshing coleslaw and you’ve got a sandwich or sliders for lunch. Or try one of my favorite creations: Whole wheat BBQ chicken confit pizza with smoked gouda (as pictured). My husband can’t get enough of it! (Let me know in the comments if you would like the recipe) The possible uses for chicken confit are endless, the work is minimal and most importantly, the results are mouthwatering. Enjoy! —Jenya | BlueGalley
Makes 6 to 8 chicken thighs
- 6 to 8 skin on / bone in chicken thighs
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3 or 4 thyme sprigs
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 large garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
- 1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 2 cups Extra Virgin Olive Oil (or enough to cover chicken)
- 2 cups Canola Oil (or enough to cover chicken)
- ON THE DAY BEFORE COOKING: If chicken is wet, pat it dry so spices adhere easily. Season thighs evenly on both sides with the kosher salt and pepper.
- Place chicken thighs into a gallon size zip lock bag (or a large dish or bowl), add the smashed garlic, thyme sprigs and bay leaves. The benefit of the bag is that it uses up the smallest amount of space and is much easier to fit in the fridge. Also, you can easily rearrange the chicken in the bag so it gets evenly flavored by the garlic and herbs, without having to open up the dish and dirty up another utensil.
- Close bag, squeezing all the air out. Use your hand to mix ingredients slightly, so they are dispersed somewhat evenly. Place in fridge (I like to rest the bag on a small plate) for at least 12 hours, overnight preferably. If possible, at some point mix the chicken up slightly to move the garlic and herbs around.
- ON DAY OF COOKING: Preheat oven to 225 if slow roasting. Otherwise, get your slow cooker out.
- Remove the chicken from the bag and place in a colander, reserving the aromatics. Rinse to get some of the salt off and pat dry very well.
- Place the thighs into a roasting pan large enough to hold all the chicken, but not so big that you can't cover it with oil. Or place chicken into the slow cooker.
- Disperse all the aromatics you used when brining. Add rosemary if using. And scatter the sliced onion over. Add a 50/50 mixture of olive oil and canola oil until the chicken is completely submerged. It has to be totally covered with the oil, or it will not cook evenly.
- Cover and roast in the oven for 6 to 8 hours. You can check the chicken at the 6 hour mark, it should be really tender. If using slow cooker, cook on low for 3 hours, then increase heat and cook on high for another 2 hours.
- Let the chicken and pan come to room temperature. You can pull out some thighs right away if you want to use them immediately, or cover and place in the fridge. It might be easier to move the thighs to another bowl, just make sure they are always submerged in the oil and covered tightly. The chicken will keep for 5 or 6 days. Also, strain the oil and reserve to fry the chicken in it, or other foods like potatoes.
- When you want to use the chicken, just remove desired amount and fry in the reserved oil, starting skin side down over medium heat. Let the skin get really golden before flipping, so it doesn't stick.
- Alternatively, shred the chicken and use in salads, on a pizza, tacos or pasta.