Classic duck confit is a true labor of love. There is salting and curing, an overnight rest, a ton of store-bought duck fat (assuming you don’t have some lying around) and an eternity spent in an oven.
Of course, to all of this I say “Yum!” But also: “What if I … didn’t?”
I know the “correct” way to do most things, yet I mostly choose to ignore those techniques in favor of “faster” or “more convenient” ways. I realize I’m sacrificing history and tradition, but what I get in return is dinner that night.
So here I offer you a confit-ish dish that uses chicken, not duck. We’ll still use legs and we’ll still cook it relatively low and slow in plenty of fat (but make it olive oil). I promise you extremely tender meat and an abundance of leftover schmaltzy liquid in the baking dish, a concoction so good you might swear off plain olive oil forever. (More on that later.)
I am not one to waste the chance to cook other ingredients in chicken fat, and so I love throwing other vegetables into the dish to sizzle and caramelize alongside the legs. Springy carrots, garlic and thinly sliced lemon are excellent because they also flavor the oil. (Again, we are going to save all that oil.)
The beauty of this dish is its simplicity. But if you’re looking for ultrabrowned, crisp-skinned chicken, you can remove the almost-fall-apart-tender cooked legs and give them a quick sear in a skillet. This step is not mandatory, but overachievers should feel free to do it.
As for the leftover oil I won’t stop talking about: Once the chicken, carrots and lemons are long gone, you’ll be left with a dish full of salty, lemony, garlicky, chickeny fat that should be put to use as often as you can. Fry eggs in it. Roast vegetables in it. Cook more chicken in it. I don’t want to overwhelm you, but I also recommend using it to make breadcrumbs, croutons or toast. Once you do that, you might pass out from the deliciousness.
While it might not be authentic, this dish delivers everything good about traditional confit, along with a few bonus items. And at the end of the day, I’m just trying to eat sooner. Surely you can relate.
OLIVE OIL-ROASTED CHICKEN WITH CARAMELIZED CARROTS
By Alison Roman, New York Times
- 2 pounds whole chicken legs, or bone-in, skin-on drumsticks or thighs
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 bunch small, thin carrots, preferably with their green tops
- 2 heads garlic, unpeeled, cut in half crosswise to expose cloves
- 1 lemon, thinly sliced, seeds removed
- 1/2 bunch oregano
- 1 cup olive oil
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Season chicken with salt and pepper.
Trim tops of carrots so stems are about 1/2- to 1-inch long. Save greens for garnish or other uses (see notes).
Arrange chicken in a large shallow baking dish or pot (2-1/2 to 3 quarts) so legs are snug and lying flat. Scatter garlic head halves, carrots, lemon slices and oregano sprigs (save a few leaves for garnish) amid chicken, nestling everything in there. (It’s OK if the carrots stick out a bit.)
Pour olive oil over chicken and vegetables. (Yes, you’re using all that oil!) Season again with salt and pepper.
Place in oven, uncovered, and roast until chicken is so tender it nearly falls off the bone and carrots and lemons are nicely caramelized, 55 to 65 minutes.
Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Serve scattered with carrot tops, if you have them, and more oregano. Serves 4.
>> Note: Leftover olive oil in the baking pan can be strained and stored in an airtight container, and refrigerated up to a month. Use in cooking other foods. Carrot greens may be treated like parsley and used in dishes such as salsa verde or pesto.
Nutritional information unavailable.