Bacon. Everyone loves it. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, desserts … you name it, you can add bacon to it. Now with all that bacon comes a bunch of delicious bacon fat that you definitely don’t want to go to waste. During Father’s Day weekend I had bought an 18-slice pack of thick-cut hickory smoked bacon which I used to make a bacon bouquet (you can check it out on our Instagram), spaghetti alla carbonara, BLTs, and good ol’ breakfast. All that bacon produced about 3/4 cup of bacon fat which I saved and refrigerated. In an attempt to use up this magical elixir of goodness, as well as the last few strips of bacon I had left, I decided to go with confit and a classic bacon pairing with Brussels sprouts.
Confit is a method of cooking in which food is slowly cooked in oil at a low temperature. Usually you see this method being used with dark meat such as duck, and it can take 10+ hours at a temperature of 200°F. Now let’s be honest. AIN’T NO ONE GOT TIME FOR THAT. So I decided to do my own (quicker) twist on confit using chicken thighs and bacon fat! Instead of a cooking time of 10 hours, this confit should be done in 2! Even though you are cooking in oil, not much of it will be absorbed by the meat. Because you’re cooking it long and slow in bacon fat, your chicken should have that added layer of savoriness and be moist and tender… practically melting in your mouth!
What You’ll Need:
- 8 chicken thighs, boneless and skinless (I would have preferred skin-on but these were all I had on hand)
- 3 tablespoons salt
- 1 teaspoon crushed black pepper
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 4 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 teaspoon thyme
- 1 teaspoon rosemary
- 1 teaspoon red chili flakes
- 5 bay leaves
- 3/4 cup bacon fat
- 1 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 4 cups Brussels Sprouts, thinly sliced
- 1 cup yellow onion, chopped
- 1 cup thick cut bacon, sliced into small strips
- Salt and pepper, to taste
1. Pat dry the chicken thighs with a paper towel.
2. Mix salt, pepper, sugar, garlic, thyme, rosemary, chili flakes, and bay leaves in a bowl. Evenly pour over and rub on both sides of all the chicken thighs. Allow the chicken to cure in the fridge for at least 1 hour (the longer the better so if you plan ahead and have the time, curing overnight would be ideal).
3. While you’re waiting for the chicken, cook the bacon on medium-high heat until the fat is rendered and the bacon is fully cooked and golden. Place the bacon on a plate lined with paper towels and dab off excess fat.
4. You now have a pan full of bacon fat. Add the rest of your refrigerated bacon fat, stick of butter, and olive oil. Mix thoroughly until the butter is completely melted. You now have your confit oil! Set aside and let cool.
5. Once your chicken is done curing for at least an hour, take it out of the fridge and lightly rinse the excess salt off your chicken. Pat dry.
6. Preheat oven to 275°F.
7. Pour enough confit oil to coat the bottom of your roasting/baking tray. Arrange the cured chicken thighs, garlic, and bay leaves in a single layer in your oiled roasting/baking tray. Your chicken can fit a little snug but no overlapping!
8. Fully submerge your chicken with the rest of your confit oil. If there’s not enough, add more olive oil or try using a smaller tray. If you are using skin-on chicken, don’t submerge the skin (or else it won’t crisp).
9. Cover your tray of chicken with aluminum foil and leave in the oven for about 1.5-2 hours. Check on your chicken every 30 minutes.
10. Once the chicken has reached an internal temperature of 165°F and is tender, remove your tray from the oven and allow it to cool for 10 minutes. Then, transfer the thighs from the tray to a rack to allow for the excess fat to drip off. Let the chicken rest for an additional 10 minutes. *If you have skin on your chicken, you can crisp it up in a skillet or broil it in the oven for 5 minutes (time may vary depending on your oven so make sure to check up on it!).
11. While your chicken is cooling, finish making your side! With about 1 tablespoon of confit oil, sauté your onions on medium heat until transparent. Add the Brussels sprouts and sauté for an additional 5 minutes.
12. Season to taste (remember that your bacon will add saltiness!) then add your bacon back into the pan. Toss thoroughly and that’s it for your side!
13. Then all there is to do is plate up your chicken confit and Brussels sprouts and enjoy!
– Linh Linh