Confit this!

A few months ago my friend Pam and I took a cooking class at The Chef Next Door in Walkerville.  One of the dishes featured was duck confit.  For those of you who were like me about 6 months ago and don’t know what confit means meat cooked in it’s own rendered fat.  It sounds disgusting but I promise confiting actually produces really tasty and juicy meat.

The next recipe comes from the cookbook of my favorite chef, David Chang, but also a cookbook that I have had some less than stellar results…remember pickled fruit, remember this science experiment?

Well the recipe tagged this time was for Chicken Wings.  Sounds easy right?  Guess again, David Chang apologizes at the beginning of the recipe that his recipe is the world’s longest recipe for chicken wings.  But he also says they are “very, very good.”  Always up for a challenge I got started making the recipe a few days before I would actually be eating.  Also it’s important to note the timing of this recipe.  This was the last recipe I made before we headed to Japan.  Knowing the love of Japanese cuisine that both David Chang and I share I thought it would be monumental to make a David Chang recipe the night before leaving for Japan.

I took chicken wings and cut them at the joint and also removed the wing tip.

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I made a brine mixing water with sugar and salt.

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I took all the chicken pieces, except for the wing tips and placed them in the brine for 2 hours in the refrigerator.  (But you can soak your chicken in the brine anywhere from 1-6 hours).

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I removed the chicken from the brine and placed my chicken in an oven safe dish along with 2 slices of smoked bacon.  Then I poured rendered duck fat (liquefied by warming up) on top of the chicken wings.

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The chicken was placed in the oven for 30 minutes at 180 degrees F.  Then it was removed, let cool to room temperature and covered and placed in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Meanwhile I took the wing tips and made a tare, a Japanese sauce typically used for dipping.  I placed the wing tips in a skillet over medium high heat.

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They cooked for 15 minutes stirring occasionally until nicely browned.  Then I added sake, soy sauce and mirin to the skillet, brought to a boil and reduced to simmer for 40 minutes.

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The solids were then strained and the tare cooled to room before being covered and refrigerated.

The night before leaving for Japan I finished up the wings.  I placed the dish with the wings and now solidified duck fat in a oven on low heat to re-liquefy the fat.

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Meanwhile I made the sauce.  I took a couple of tablespoons of the liquefied fat and placed in a skillet over medium heat.  I then added garlic and cooked for a couple of minutes.  I added the tare and cooked for about 10 minutes.  I added chopped pickled chili pepper, removed from the heat and let it sit until the wings were done.

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sauce!

Once the fat was liquefied in the oven I removed a few wings at a time with a slotted spoon and placed in a cast iron skillet over medium high heat.

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The recipe directed to use another skillet or a press to cook the wings while pressing them for several minutes each side.  I decided to fashion my own.  I took 2 bricks and covered them in foil and used those to press the wings.

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It seemed to work ok but after several batches the bricks became slippery and one of the bricks slipped from my grip and smashed down into the skillet which at this point had quite a bit of duck fat.  The scorching duck fat splattered around the whole kitchen and me!  I received burns on my arm, chest, stomach and leg – THE DAY BEFORE LEAVING FOR JAPAN!

Burns on my chest the next day while sitting on the plane to Japan.
Burns on my chest the next day while sitting on the plane to Japan.

I’m not going to lie.  Both Matt and I thought our trip was cancelled.  We didn’t vocalize this to each other but we both thought to ourselves we would no longer be able to go.  I immediately jumped into a cold shower and Matt ran to Shopper to grab some Polysporin.  And then I finished the dish.  Once I had cooked all the wings I tossed them in the sauce.  And served them with green onions placed on top.

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The Verdict:  So my first thought – I am NEVER making these wings again.  But after tasting I realized they are really, really good, just as David Chang said they would be.  After attempting to eat a few (I was still a ton of pain), we headed out for some drinks.  Vinny at Kildare House took sympathy on me and gave me a shot.  And then later at F&B Tom and John took sympathy on me and gave me a shot.  The pain was then bearable.   And luckily the next morning the pain was ok so I felt I could endure 15 hours on a plane, but those of you who follow my blog already know I did make it Japan because of this post and this post.

Lesson learned – use the correct tools and equipment!  Life lesson!

 

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