Thursday, December 23, 2010

Chicken Confit with Acorn Squash in Duck Fat

We are getting a lot more chicken due to our new CSA provider, Meadow Heaven.  I still love Mint Creek but the BF was a bit tired of Lamb and creative dishes with offal are a bit much sometimes.  Ok, ok... I know it's good for me but I just can't do it! lol.  Needless to say, the cats were eating well when Mint Creek was our CSA. *grin*

Anyway, another thing I don't like too much is dark meat chicken.  I know it's supposedly the best part, a la the BF.  But, for me, I never liked it that much.  You know why, right?  It's the veins.  *shudder*

But, I have found two ways I can eat dark meat.  One is when I take the meat from the chicken and make ground chicken (it is much better than buying ground chicken).  The second is new as of yesterday and it is chicken leg confit.  It is so good, that I can even get over my weirdness with the chicken leg.

Confit is the french term for meat preserved in fat. Normally it is the fat from the animal but I used duck fat.  I like the flavors and I got a great price on a "bucket of fat" from our local butcher.   The best part is that once you have this stored off in your fridge, you can put a quick dinner together whenever you are short on time.

Fancy in less than 15 min - how cool is that?  The bad part? This is a multi-day process but does not take a lot of time on most days.  

Chicken Leg Confit

  • 5 chicken legs
  • 2 tablespoons salt (coarse kosher)
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2-3 sprigs of thyme
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 6 garlic cloves, crushed
  • duck fat or lard - enough to cover the meat
Day 1: Marinate the chicken - approx 10 min.
Mix together salt, pepper, thyme, bay leaves and garlic.  Rub the mixture onto the chicken legs covering as much of the meat and skin as possible.  Place in a covered container or zip lock bag and store in the fridge for about 48 hours.

Day 2: salty massage - 5 min? or less.
Pull out the chicken, give it a quick rub.  Or not. I completely forgot about them for the whole 48 hrs. :)

Day 3: cook - approx  2 hrs.
Take the chicken from the fridge and scrape off the seasonings, saving them off to the side.  Preheat the oven to 300 F while waiting for the duck fat to heat up in a pan.  Once the fat is heated, place the chicken in the pan and brown the legs all over.  Put the legs into a ovenproof dish, where the legs fit snugly.  Add the seasonings that you saved off.  Cover with duck fat and place into the oven, let it cook for about 2 hours, turning them very carefully every once in a while.   Remove from the oven and let it cool to room temp.   Put legs into a container that can be covered,  I use a glass-lock box in a rather large size.  At this point you can layer the legs if you like, then cover them completely with fat.  Place in the fridge and you can pull it out to eat any time between now and 6 months from now.

Six months later:  re-heating the legs
So, if you still have it in the fridge six months later -- I'm impressed. I only managed to wait 2 weeks before I broke into it because I didn't get a chance to cook anything for dinner.  There are two options for reheating the legs:  1) oven method: heat oven to 450 F, pull out the chicken from the fat, cook for 5 min. 2)  pan method: put the legs with a little bit of the fat into a fry pan and slowly bring up to heat.   Takes a bit longer but then I don't have to heat up the oven for two legs. 

You can save and reuse the fat for more confit or something else.  So even though you have covered it in a lot of fat, you are not going to be wasting it.  I took a little spoonful of it cold from the fridge the other day -- but I am a oddity in that I like to eat fat. :)

Normally duck confit is served with something that is a bit on the sweet or sour flavor as a side dish.  As the confit tends to be a bit salty, I like something that is naturally sweet to off set the flavors. 

Acorn Squash with Mache and Walnuts

  • 1 small acorn squash - cooked
  • 2 handfuls walnuts (or however much you like)
  • 2 handfuls mache (or spinach or another green)
  • a bit of the duck fat from the confit if you wish
To cook the acorn squash:
Cut squash in 1/2 - if you have a sharp enough knife (if not, cook the squash for about 20 min and then cut it).  Put a pat of butter in each half. Cook the squash in a 350F oven for 20-30 min until squash is soft to the touch.

Cut squash into bite size pieces.  heat pan, put the walnuts in the pan and dry roast them.  about 5 min, shaking / stirring the nuts so they do not burn.  Add the squash.  if using the duck fat - put about a teaspoon or so in now.  Give a quick stir.  Add the greens and once it has wilted you are done.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Sort-of Oatmeal / sort-of Porridge.....

all in all a nice, quick and tasty breakfast.   I wish I could say I thought of it but lately I've just been playing with recipe books and other peoples on-line postings. 

The coconut porridge recipe from The Wholesome Home is really good.  We used a bit more coconut and whole milk instead of coconut milk.  The BF would like some cinnamon added -- but all in all it was brilliant.  10 min (or less). 

Warm and filling before going out into the lovely winter weather we have been having.