Chicken Confit & Blood Orange Carrots with Molasses-Caramelized Onions, Beet Greens, and Shiitakes

 A few weeks ago, I visited a friend in Charleston, SC and we went on a week-long food tour of the city. So incredible! I had never tried confit before, which is meat cooked in its own fat. This technique was used to preserve meat before refrigerators, but lends an (obviously) delicious flavor and creates incredibly tender, fall-off-the-bone dishes. I had duck confit with creamy Anson Mills oats, sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts, and bourbon apple jus at Husk, a new restaurant in Charleston. They source only from local farmers and fishermen, and their menu changes daily. It was AMAZING. I figured I would end my trip the way I started it, so on my way to the airport I stopped at Caviar and Bananas for more gluttony: I got a duck confit sandwich with aged gouda, pickled red onion, fig preserves, black pepper mayo, and arugula on toasted sourdough. Almost missed my flight for this sandwich – and it was worth it 😉 Enough of the food porn – let’s get you cookin’ this chicken!

This recipe is dairy- and gluten-free, with local produce and chicken. AKA Paleo-friendly! It can be kind of frightening making it since it calls for so much fat, but they’re healthy fats…and it’s delicious, so dive in! This is a cheater’s version of confit. It would normally be cooked in chicken fat, or goose or duck fat if you have access to that, but it needs to sit for a few days prior to cooking. So, this version uses olive oil for the chicken confit and coconut oil for the carrot confit, and can be prepared and cooked on the same day. It can be eaten off the bone, shredded into a sandwich or salad, or eaten any way your heart desires really.

I adapted these two recipes for the chicken and carrots: NY Times Recipe // Paleo Diet Lifestyle Recipe

Ingredients for the whole meal:

  • 5 chicken legs or quarters
  • 3 slices bacon
  • 5 cups olive oil
  • 1 cup (or more) coconut oil
  • 1/2 pound shiitakes
  • 2 pounds mixed carrots
  • 1 or 2 heads of garlic
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1-2 bunches beet greens (or other greens you may already have)
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme
  • 1 bunch fresh rosemary
  • 3 blood oranges (or regular oranges or lemons instead)
  • 1 tablespoon molasses

Chicken Confit Ingredients

  • 5 chicken leg quarters
  • 4 1/2 – 5 cups extra virgin olive oil (enough to cover chicken completely)
  • 3 tablespoons sea salt; pepper to taste
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 3 cloves garlic, very finely minced

How to!

  • Heat oven to 300 degrees. Put chicken in a pan just large enough to fit it comfortably and deep enough for oil to completely cover chicken. Add remaining ingredients. Place on stovetop over medium-high heat, and cook only until bubbles come up.
  • Transfer pan to oven, uncovered. Cook for about two hours; oil should be bubbling, but just barely. Adjust oven heat as necessary. When done, meat can be easily pierced with a thin-bladed knife. Cool slightly, then remove chicken from oil. Strain and reserve oil for another use (store in refrigerator). Meat may be refrigerated for several days before using.
  • To reheat, put 2 tablespoons reserved oil into a skillet over medium heat. Add chicken and cook on both sides until nicely browned, 15 minutes.

Carrot Confit Ingredients

  • 2 pounds carrots (orange and purple)
  • Zest of 2 organic blood organes
  • Juice of those 2 blood oranges
  • 1 blood orange, sliced very thin
  • 4 cloves garlic, very finely minced (mashed is even better)
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 1 cup melted coconut oil (or duck fat, butter, etc).

How to!

  • Prepare your carrots. I just scrubbed mine really well to help the purple ones keep their color (purple outside, orange inside). You can cut them in 1 inch pieces or leave them whole if they will fit all flat in your baking dish. Add the sliced orange to the baking dish. They will cook enough to be eaten whole!
  • Mix the zest, orange juice, garlic, thyme and fat.
  • Pour the fat mixture on the carrots. It should ideally cover the carrots completely. (Mine wasn’t covered completely, but had enough of the coconut oil mixture so I didn’t add more.)
  • Put in the oven for about 2 hours.
  • Remove from oven. At this point, the carrots will be flavorful, soft yet still crunchy on the outside.
  • As an optional step before serving, brown the carrots in a large skillet with the fat mixture that was used to cook them. This will create a crispy exterior and a tender interior.

Greens ingredients

  • 3 slices bacon
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1-2 bunches beet greens or other greens, chopped or ripped
  • 1/2 pound shiitakes, tough ends cut off
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • sea salt & pepper

While the chicken and carrots were cooking, I cooked bacon in one pan and caramelized a yellow onion in the bacon fat in another pan (had used up all my olive and coconut oil!!!) Part way through the caramelizing, I added sea salt and a tablespoon of molasses to the onions. Then, removed the cooked bacon from the pan, and sauteed the shiitakes. Once the chicken and carrots were almost done, I added the chopped beet greens to the onions. After a few minutes, I added the sauteed mushrooms and chopped bacon to that pan and let them cook together for a couple minutes. Timing worked out well – the chicken and carrots were done at the same time as the greens. All said and done, the whole meal took about 3 hours. It was a FEAST! And makes feasting for days to come really easy, if it’ll last that long in your house. I made this last night, and it’s all already gone…!!

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