Chicken Confit

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Sometimes we don’t have access to duck, but every grocery store carries plenty of chicken. Chicken thighs make a terrific confit. It works just like duck confit—salt and season for a day, then poach in rendered fat or olive oil. You can also confit chicken wings and then deep-fry them for an unforgettable take on fried chicken. Chicken confit is a great preparation to have on hand for a last-minute delicious dinner: Serve with mashed potatoes and a green vegetable for a delightful dinner in 20 minutes. But you have to have planned ahead to make the confit in the first place! Thinking ahead is your biggest asset in the kitchen.

Here I choose sweet spices; you can use your intuition and take the flavor in any direction you wish. These are also delicious roasted or deep-fried, then tossed with a good barbecue sauce or glazed with the char siu sauce.

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Ingredients

  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 7 to 8 sprigs thyme
  • 8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • 1 quart/1 liter olive oil or rendered duck or chicken fat, or as needed

Method

Combine the garlic, brown sugar, pepper, allspice, cloves, and cinnamon in a small bowl and mix to distribute the seasonings.

Coat the chicken thighs with an even layer of salt and put them in a zip-top plastic bag. Add the garlic-spice mixture, along with the thyme, and rub it around to coat the chicken as evenly as possible. Refrigerate the chicken overnight. Midway through, give them a rub and a shake to redistribute the seasonings.

Preheat your oven to 200°F/93°C.

Remove the chicken thighs from the bag and rinse off the seasonings. Pat them dry. Put them in an oven-safe pot that is taller than it is wide; it’s fine to overlap and stack them. Pour in enough oil or fat to ensure that they are completely submerged.

Put the pot over high heat. When the oil reaches 200°F/93°C, put the pot, uncovered, in the oven for 4 hours, or until the chicken is fork-tender.

Remove the pot from the oven and let it come to room temperature. Transfer the chicken thighs to a container and pour the fat over the chicken until it’s completely submerged (reserve the gelatinous confit liquid at the bottom of the pot for another use). Cover and refrigerate.

To finish the chicken: Preheat your oven to 350°F/175°C. Remove the chicken thighs from the fat, letting the fat fall off or brushing away excess solid fat, and put them on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast for 10 minutes, then turn on the broiler. Broil till the chicken is heated through and the skin is crisp. If you are not using all the thighs at once, be sure to add more olive oil to ensure that the remaining thighs are covered in fat.