The secrets to a succulent chicken confit—and why it’s a dish worth waiting for
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Bright star, bright flavors
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.
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Take it slow
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.”
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Crisp Chicken Confit
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.
Jasinski warns,, "If the chicken sticks out of the fat, it's not going to cook evenly."
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"Be very gentle when you crisp the confit, because the skin tears easily," advises Jasinski.
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Orange Endive Salad with Chicken Confit
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.”