Thursday, February 19, 2015

Chicken Confit

While slow food has become a household term, it hasn't necessarily won the affection of each and every household.

Contrary to the images associated with slow-cooking, (the housewife in hand-dyed flax and woolen clothing, slowly simmering something slain by her own hands over a wood-fired cook stove, taking time out to change cloth diapers and tend the garden) it's possibly one of the most accessible means of taking humble food to special depths without toil. Considering slow food's reputation for requiring excessive time and effort, of the two, effort is not always essential.

Crockpots and slow cookers make slow food simple, with the advantage of electric settings and timers. Using time as the main ingredient, inexpensive, bone-in meats can render slowly in their own fat and marrow producing a fairly unbelievable dish: confit.

The process is simple: break down a whole chicken or use a few pounds of legs, thighs and breast meat with skin and bone.

Once rinsed, dry with paper towels. Place in a DRY crockpot, slow cooker or heavy braising pot. Season liberally with coarse sea salt. I like to add a few sprigs of dried lemongrass and possibly some garlic or onion, but you can keep seasonings as simple as salt.

Fit with a lid and place on medium setting, or low heat if cooking on stovetop. Then walk away for about 12 hours. Don't lift the lid or stir. Just forget about it (mostly). Sleep. Dye some wool. Watch your "stories." Go outside and enjoy the snow. 

When you remove the contents from heat, a transformation will have taken place.
The slow, relatively low heat works to pull fat, marrow and juices from bones and skin, poaching the muscle. The meat will fall away from the bones with a nudge, the salts and fats having worked their way in.

From here you can serve the shredded meat in tacos, return it to a saucepan and douse with bbq sauce, make soup, quiche, chicken salad, anything. But it will be the best version of these dishes you've had, because the meat is so packed with flavor and meltingly tender.

The cooking juices can be strained and will become gelatinous once cooled. From here you can water down the concentrated liquid for soup bases. This is maybe one of the best ways to get all you can from your ingredients, with hardly any active prep.

Enjoy. Stay full....and warm!


  1. Interesting, that slow cooking. My mother said the same about baking bread:" Go to the market while the bread is rising, give it time!!"

  2. You can dry your bags while the chicken is cooking!