The secrets to a succulent chicken confit—and why it’s a dish worth waiting for
Chef Jennifer Jasinski started cooking for her family at age 8, while growing up in Santa Barbara—the land of “oranges and
avocados,” she says. “I still like the bright freshness of California.” Today, Jasinski—who won a James Beard award in 2013
and is competing on Season 5 of Top Chef Masters—juggles three acclaimed Denver restaurants: Rioja, a high-end Mediterranean
venue; Bistro Vendôme, a French café; and Euclid Hall, a beer-and-sausage pub.
At each of her restaurants, her clean flavors shine, along with her nimble use of French technique. “Learning the classics up and down helps you be creative,” she says. One of her favorite methods is the ultra-slow transformation of raw meat into rich, crisp-skinned confit. “This is how meat was preserved before refrigeration,” she explains, as she simmers a chicken version at home. “It hasn’t changed for centuries because there’s no need to change perfection.”
Although it takes a while, confit doesn’t require much hands-on time. This method works for duck or rabbit too. Jasinski prefers
duck or chicken fat for the confit, but easier-to-find lard or a 50-50 blend of olive oil and vegetable oil also work.
Recipe: Crisp Chicken Confit
Jasinski warns,, "If the chicken sticks out of the fat, it's not going to cook evenly."
"Be very gentle when you crisp the confit, because the skin tears easily," advises Jasinski.
Rich, salty chicken confit, served with these ingredients, becomes a complete—and perfect—meal. “You want enough elements
on the plate to make every bite a happy bite,” says Jasinski. “The watercress is spicy, endive is more bitter, oranges are
sweet, avocado is creamy. There’s a reason why everything is in here.”
Recipe: Orange Endive Salad with Chicken Confit
“Eat the confit with anything you’d use regular chicken for,” says Jasinski. “It’ll be yummier.” Try it with ...
Eggs and latkes (pictured). Pull the meat off the bone and pile it on crisp potato pancakes. Get the recipe: Crisp Latkes with Chicken Confit and Eggs.
A baguette. For a sandwich, tuck big shreds into a baguette with thinly sliced celery and a lemony vinaigrette.
Pasta. Mix with chunkier shapes like penne or gnocchi, or use it to fill ravioli.
Risotto. Serve the whole leg. One great fall combo: Season the meat with Chinese five-spice powder before cooking, use butternut squash and walnuts in the risotto, and serve with bok choy.
Mashed potatoes. Nestle the leg next to a rich potato purée and round out the plate with something bracing, like grilled radicchio.
Waffles. Shred onto a waffle, then drizzle with black-pepper béchamel and a little maple syrup.
Tacos. Add a crunchy slaw of green cabbage, cilantro, red onion; a squeeze of lime; and sour cream.