Snow and 2 recipes from the old days: chicken confit and candied kumquat financiers
|January 14, 2011||Posted by ameliaps under chicken, dessert, kumquat|
My city has been closed down by a snow storm. My entire street is covered in white. For the last four days, life has been nothing short of magic. Everything has seemed to take a slower, better pace. All the kids are out playing and laughing no matter how cold it is. They are sledding, throwing snow balls, making snow men, running from house to house… The neighborhood is like a small village, everyone is walking around, in the middle of the street, chatting like the old days (and slipping on ice, like my clumsy self!). There are no cars, no mechanical noises, no rush. I wish life could be this way forever.
Meanwhile, back at the house… the stove and the oven have been on, cooking and baking. When you enter the house from being outside, the warmth and the aromas surround you and envelop you into a cozy hug. You know you are “home”. Boots off, PJs and socks on, we enjoy a small feast. It seemed appropriate to make two ancient recipes, given that we have been living like the “old days”, so I made chicken confit for the main course, and for dessert, candied kumquat financiers.
Chicken confit is one of those dishes that hail from the past, when refrigeration did not exist. It yields a very moist and tender meat (I use the thighs) and stays for quite a while. The chicken is sloooowly cooked in fat: you can use any fat you have on hand to cook it (it’s basically slow poached in oil). Personally, I prefer a vegetable fat (like olive oil or peanut oil), but go ahead and suit yourself with duck fat or lard, if you wish! You can pull out a few pieces right before dinner and crisp it up under the broiler (you taste the best skin you’ve ever had, much better than fried chicken). Just add a salad or some greens on the side and a glass of red wine. Fire optional. Very comforting. I love the glossy look and you HAVE to taste a piece of the gelatin that develops with the juices once refrigerated. Oh, and don’t worry: you don’t eat all the fat the chicken is cooked in! Plus, winter is the time to cook richer foods, is it not?
Over the holidays I had made some candied kumquats to serve along cheese as an appetizer, over a chicken salad (oh yes, btw, one or two would go great with the chicken confit), or just on toast for breakfast. And candying, like confit-ing, is another way to preserve foods from the past. Having some of these delicate candied fruits on hand in my fridge, I decided to make use of them for dessert, and chose to make financiers. If you like madeleines, you will love their close cousins, the financiers. They are a similar in preparation and texture, but I think they are deeper, richer in taste, because they include beurre noisette: nutty, browned butter, and ground almonds. According to Dorie Greenspan, this “rich” dessert (almonds, lots of butter, and sugar) was first created for bankers in the 19th century, so they could have a sweet bite on the job without a using a fork and without getting too messy! I don’t own financier molds (which are small, low, rectangular pans) so I used mini-loaf pans filled only half way. In any case, I like mine because they are a bit taller with more crumb and less crust. They are perfect with Darjeeling tea, especially if it’s snowing outside!
If you do decide to add the candied kumquats like in my recipe (or for that matter any fruit, such as berries), make sure to add them halfway through the baking time or even a bit towards the end so the don’t sink in the batter.
Candied kumquat financiers
This recipe is an adaptation from both and
Yield: 12 Financiers, if you use the Financiers pans, or 4-5 mini loafs if that’s the tin you have on hand (which is what I used), or 16 mini muffin molds.
1/3 cup (5 tablespoons) (80 ml) beurre noisette (made from 1/2 cup (=113 grams, 1 stick) unsalted butter)
1/4 cup (30 grams) all purpose flour
1/2 cup (50 grams) almond flour/meal or finely ground almonds
3/4 cup (90 grams) confectioners’ sugar
1/8 tsp salt
3 large (90 grams) egg whites, lightly beaten
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
Optional: 1 Tbsp. candied kumquat syrup, or zest of a few fresh kumquats
Optional topping: a few candied kumquats (see recipe below*), halved, to top each financier
Make beurre noisette (brown butter): place the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once the butter has melted let it come to a boil, swirling the pan occasionally. As it boils you will notice that a foam will appear on the butter’s surface. Continue to cook the butter until it looks clear and the milk solids have dropped to the bottom of the pan and have turned deep brown. Remove from heat and immediately pour through a cheesecloth-lined strainer. Let cool to room temperature. You will need 1/3 cup (80 ml) of beurre noisette.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) with the rack in the center of the oven. Place the almond flour (meal) on a baking sheet and bake 6-8 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from oven and let cool. Increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C). Place 12 rectangular or boat shaped tartlet molds (each holds about 2 tablespoons of batter) or 4-5 mini-loaf pans on a large baking sheet. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, almond flour (meal), confectioners’ sugar and salt. Make a well in the center and fold in the lightly beaten egg whites, vanilla, candied kumquat syrup, and the 1/3 cup beurre noisette. Use the leftover beurre noisette to butter the molds, using a pastry brush. Fill each mold almost to the rim and bake for 4 minutes. Remove from the oven and place a half candied kumquat (or a few berries) on top of each. Return the molds to the oven and bake a further 5-7 minutes or until the Financiers have become light brown on top and are springy to the touch. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack. These are best eaten the same day they are made. (The batter will keep a few days in the refrigerator.)
Heat water and sugar over medium-high heat until it boils. Them simmer for 5 more minutes. Add the halved kumquats and simmer for about 10 minutes more.
Drain the kumquats into a bowl. Return the syrup to the pan and reduce it, on a simmer, for about 5 minutes. Store kunquats and syrup in a small jar. Refrigerate up to a couple of weeks.
4 chicken leg quarters
4 cups extra virgin olive oil, more as needed
10 Salt and pepper to taste
1 sprigs fresh thyme
head garlic, cut in half
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. [Note, I just use the oven broiler, which makes the skin wonderfully crispy]. Serve hot or at room temperature.