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 in the kitchen. I know to soak beans overnight so they cook evenly and the skins don’t split; I can make a classic buttercream so stable you could caulk a tub with it. And yet I mostly choose to ignore the “correct” way in favor of a “faster” or “more convenient” way. I realize I’m sacrificing history and tradition — but what I get in return is dinner that night.
So here I offer you chicken confit-ish. As you may have guessed by the name, the bird in question is chicken, not duck. But we’ll still use legs (or legs and thighs), and, not to worry, 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.
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.
The beauty of this confit-ish shortcut is its simplicity. But if you’re looking for ultra-browned, 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, it’s maybe the best reason to make this dish. 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 your eggs in it. Roast your 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.
Although 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.