27 May2012

This is what happens when you have oodles and oodles of fantastic lard to play with… I have always loved duck confit — rich, salty and tender legs/thighs of duck that have been seasoned with salt and slow poached in duck or goose fat. They are the ultimate gourmet “fast food” in that you just pop them out of the can or bottle (carefully, lest you dismember the pieces) into a hot cast iron pan and let its skin brown beautifully to a crisp, and enjoy with some baked potatoes or shredded over a salad, added into a cassoulet, etc. A couple of weeks ago, I decided to try my hand at making confit of chicken, knowing full well that chicken is nowhere near as rich as duck, but what was there to lose in trying? :)

I took several large meaty leg quarters from the grocery (actually imported, on sale for less than local chickens, but my attraction to them was the size) and generously seasoned them with salt, cracked and whole black peppercorns, bay leaves, thyme and let this marinate in the fridge overnight. For 8 large leg quarters, use roughly 2-3 tablespoons of salt. Yes, it’s a lot, but my first batch was bland, and I realize the chicken needs a lot of salt to achieve a similar result to duck confit. The next day, wipe off the salty marinade and place the leg quarters in a wide palayok or clay cooking vessel. Add the bay leaves. Cover the chicken quarters with top quality lard (or use duck fat if you have it) and place this over a charcoal fire until it just begins to gurgle. You don’t want this to boil, just simmer or gurgle ever so slightly. Manage your coals closely, as the heat can be tricky. Cover and let this cook for say 3-4 hours until the meat is just incredibly tender and succulent. Remove from the fire and you can immediately serve this up by first pan-frying each piece of chicken until golden brown. Or you can cool this down, and store in the fridge for a few days before using. You could also freeze them for weeks or months, I suppose.

The results? FABULOUS. Not as rich as duck, but pleasantly salty, wonderfully melt-in-your mouth tender, and surprisingly not very “oily” at all. The crisped skin was almost as good as pork cracklings, and overall, a terrific flavor experience for the effort expended. Will definitely have to think of a way to introduce this at the restaurants in a couple of months… :)

P.S. If you want to do this at home, you can do it in an oven instead of over coals. But you will still need a lot of lard or duck/goose fat. I have seen recipes making this with olive oil, so I suspect there are many ways to do this dish with good results…

 

COMMENTS:

  1. RobKSA says:

    yum! :-)

    May 27, 2012 | 1:42 pm

     
  2. marosee says:

    thanks for the great idea! i’ll try making this with smoked turkey leg for added flavor. can’t wait!

    May 27, 2012 | 3:40 pm

     
  3. Limone says:

    MM, as usual another supremo technique and idea…BRAVO!
    PS: Is that cast iron skillet in the picture? Do you know where to get the Palayok? I have never cooked with clay pot before but I hear it is a great cooking vessel to retain the moisture.

    May 27, 2012 | 5:25 pm

     
  4. josephine says:

    Actually confit ‘matures’ with age, just like wine or cheese. This intensifies the flavor, which might really help when using chicken instead of the traditional duck. Keep it in preserving jars or a ceramic or terracotta pot with a good seal and make sure to drain off all juices before covering with fat. Keep in the back of the fridge and just warm the pot in hot water when you want to use some, lift the pieces out and then make sure the rest is well covered with fat before storing again. As long as the confit is always well covered with solid fat, it won’t spoil. I once kept a batch going for nine months and it just kept improving with age.

    May 27, 2012 | 6:10 pm

     
  5. Papa Ethan says:

    This looks like a great idea for typhoon season food reserve, as a delicious alternative to the usual canned goods. Do you think it will keep without refrigeration once the lard coagulates and seals the chicken parts completely?

    May 27, 2012 | 6:32 pm

     
  6. PITS, MANILA says:

    Looks and sounds delicious!

    May 27, 2012 | 6:59 pm

     
  7. erleen says:

    a native chicken version next please:)

    May 27, 2012 | 7:00 pm

     
  8. josephine says:

    Papa Ethan, confit used to be stored in cellars or other cold places and would last through the winter (it was traditionally made in autumn when the ducks or geese were slaughtered). However, in a tropical climate I would keep it in the fridge. Also sterilize the containers with boiling water before using. And don’t use plastic, that could affect the taste.

    May 27, 2012 | 8:41 pm

     
  9. millet says:

    something to try soon! i’ll try to render chicken fat into oil first, same as the chicken oil in bacolod inasal restaurants.

    May 27, 2012 | 9:17 pm

     
  10. Footloose says:

    Traditional treatment for geese who have given up their livers (albeit, forcibly) to a nobler epicurean goal. Best turkey you will ever cook as long as you have a large pot and ample spot in your fridge. Works equally well with any other mature, tough, dry and cheap fowl, in other words, you do not have to bite the pullet.

    May 27, 2012 | 10:33 pm

     
  11. edel says:

    we had chicken confit for Sunday lunch also. i used olive oil and added some green olives (salty) and a bit of red wine :)

    May 28, 2012 | 12:27 am

     
  12. Clarissa says:

    The process of making the confit reminds me of the recipe for Iberian Chicken, which is not cooked in lard, but in olive oil, with tons of garlic and rosemary, then roasted, or as I do it, on very low fire on the stove top. But the Iberian Chicken is served in the oil, though my mom prefers hers fried since it feels too oily for her. So I think I have technically made confit, although a bit more expensive with the olive oil. :)

    I guess you can make the flavors better still with more herbs to infuse the lard with. Or, is the point for all this to infuse the meat with the lard flavor? :)

    May 28, 2012 | 8:51 am

     
  13. millet says:

    footloose, i always love you way with words.( you make it sound so “un-gruesome”, hahaha!)

    May 28, 2012 | 9:01 am

     
  14. Natie says:

    …”bite the pullet”…..paarrrrampammm!

    May 28, 2012 | 9:33 pm

     
  15. Roddy says:

    Blue kitchen has chicken confit which is pretty good although I’m not exactly sure what kind of fat they use….i just crisp the chicken and use the fat for fried rice…then I eat everything with pickled jalapenos… it’s wonderful

    Following MM, I will try doing a confit …maybe with some native duck, which tend to be lean and on the tough side.

    May 28, 2012 | 11:03 pm

     
  16. Papa Ethan says:

    Thanks, josephine. =)

    May 29, 2012 | 1:45 pm

     
  17. josephine says:

    Papa Ethan, if you’re going to be serious about doing this, some more tips: sterilize your containers then invert them and let them airdry on a dishrack. Once dry, put a teaspoonful of sea salt in the bottom of the container. This neutralizes/sterilizes any meat juices or sediments which could cause spoilage. Take your confit, (chicken, duck or whatever, pork works well too) out of the fat and drain on a rack. Strain your fat through a very fine sieve. Then ladle some of the fat into your container and allow it to set to semi-solid state. Just solid enough to allow you to put some of your confit pieces in. Try to arrange them flat in one layer, and try not to let them touch the sides of the container. Ladle on some more of the fat and when semi-set add another layer of confit, etc. I’m being finicky because, especially in a hot climate, you have to be sure to prevent food- poisoning etc, but I have to say my longest batch survived an Australian summer at 45C no probs. If you use only a portion, refrigerate the leftovers immediately, covered with the fat. And do check regularly – open the container and sniff. There should be NO unpleasant odors – a well kept confit smells of fresh air!

    May 30, 2012 | 7:19 am

     
  18. Papa Ethan says:

    Josephine, I really appreciate the information. I am serious about trying this out, especially now that you mentioned your 45C experience. Thanks to MM too for showing us that chicken is just as fine for confit as duck, albeit less… impactful. =)

    May 30, 2012 | 12:15 pm

     
  19. softy says:

    Your black pan in the first picture makes my stomach grumble more than the chicken. :D Is that Lodge? ( green eyes of envy). Love u, MM!

    May 30, 2012 | 1:04 pm

     
  20. Rob says:

    Now this is what I have been looking for, I love chicken and this is a nice departure from the old chicken dishes I usually serve up, thanks Marketman!

    May 31, 2012 | 9:17 pm

     
  21. Marketman says:

    softy, yes, it’s a lodge, and probably 15+ years old… they get better with age. And they are far cheaper than fancy dept. store pans…

    Jun 1, 2012 | 8:06 am

     
 

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