Chris Cook, executive chef at Oro in the Emily Morgan, gets crackling good skin on his chicken by cooking it the day before in duck fat and then crisping it up just before serving. The end result is ideal if you want to do a dinner for two ahead of time.
The chicken is on the menu at Oro, which offers San Antonio residents a 20-percent discount off their meals. So, if you don’t have the duck fat on hand to make this succulent treat, you can at least taste it at the downtown restaurant, 705 E. Houston St.
The trappings can change with the season, so you can adapt this recipe to suit what is in season, whether it’s butternut squash, oven-roasted beets or English peas. The recipe that follows is Cook’s summer presentation.
Young Chicken Confit
1 (3-pound) chicken confit
6 ounces achiote carrot purée
2 tomatillos, cut in half and grilled until soft
4 ounces green beans, blanched, sautéed, and seasoned with salt and white pepper
2 ounces pomegranate syrup, drizzled around chicken for presentation
1 (3-pound) chicken, cut in half
1/2 cup salt
1/4 cup chili powder
½ cup bay leaves
4 sprigs of fresh thyme, chopped
4 sprigs of fresh rosemary, chopped
8 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup garlic powder
1/2 cup onion powder
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons coarse ground black peppercorns
2.5 quarts duck fat or a 90/10 vegetable oil/olive oil blend
Achiote Carrot Purée:
5 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
2 ounces achiote paste, chopped fine
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon honey
Kosher salt, to taste
Ground white pepper, to taste
For the chicken: Generously season chicken with salt, chili powder, bay leaves, thyme, rosemary, garlic cloves, garlic powder and onion powder inside cavity and out. Cover and cure for one full day. Once cured, place half chickens in heavy gauge pot and cover with duck fat. Cook over low, low, low heat for 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Remove and store in fat in refrigerator until time to serve. When ready to serve, remove chicken from fat and place in 425 degree oven until nice and golden brown and warmed through.
For the carrot purée: Blanch carrots in boiling salted water until really soft and almost falling apart. In food processor, add achiote paste, cream, butter and honey, and purée until very smooth. Season with salt and white pepper. Consistency should be that of potato purée.
Makes 2 servings.
From Chris Cook, Oro Restaurant at the Emily Morgan