Last week, I wrote about Phil Truin’s free-range chickens and cooked a spectacular crown roast, reserving the legs to confit and have for Sunday lunch the following week. Which is what this post is about.
These legs are incredible. If Usain Bolt was a chicken, he’d be a Phil Truin chicken. The legs are meaty and muscular, with a robust flavour, and a crispy, almost crackling-like skin that is so chickeny it’s like eating a bag of roast chicken crisps.
Truin chickens different are reared from one day old in small batches ‘in freshly strawed barns until they are robust enough to enjoy the meadows outside’ in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk.
Phil promises: ‘No chemicals, hormones or growing supplements are given and there are no additives in their drinking water. The fully matured birds are slaughtered, dry-plucked and finished by hand on site, then hung in the traditional manner before preparing for the table.’
But what really distinguishes the Truin chicken from other birds is their size. At slaughter, they are around 14 weeks old, which allows them to grow to a mighty 4 kg.
I’ve followed Michel Roux Jr’s recipe for Christmas turkey, which involves separating the legs from the crown, then quickly roasting the crown in a hot oven and slowly confiting (cooking in goose fat) the legs.
Here’s Michel’s recipe. You can make the leg confit several days ahead and then put in the oven to crisp up when needed.
You will need
2 chicken or turkey legs
1-2 large handfuls coarse sea salt (I used Tesco finest* Anglesey sea salt, which has massive crystals)
5 sprigs fresh thyme
2 jars goose fat (I used Cooks&Co)
1. To remove the wishbone, loosen the skin at the cavity, then find the Y-shaped bone with your fingers. Expose it using the tip of a sharp knife, then carefully pull it out.
2. Remove the legs from the crown by cutting the skin between the leg and the body, then twist firmly away from the body to expose the joint. Cut through the ball and socket joint and remove the leg and thigh completely.
3. Lay the legs on a thin layer of coarse sea salt in a deep non-metallic flameproof dish. Sprinkle with the thyme and more salt to cover lightly. Leave for 90 mins to draw out the moisture. Wipe off the salt with a cloth but don’t rinse. Discard the salt from the dish, then return the legs to it.
4. Preheat the oven to 140C/Gas 1. Warm the duck fat gently in a pan, then pour the melted fat over the legs, making sure they’re completely immersed. Cover with baking paper so it touches the oil. Put the dish over a low-medium heat and bring to a simmer, then cook in the oven for 3 1/2 hours until tender. Leave the legs in the fat to cool, then wrap the dish with clingfilm. You can keep it like this in the fridge for up to 1 month.
5. When you’re ready to cook, preheat the oven to 200C/Gas. Remove the legs from the goose fat and wipe off any excess fat. Put the legs in a roasting tin and cook for 25-30 mins until the skin is crisp and the meat is moist and juicy.
5. Serve with roast potatoes, roast carrots, Tenderstem broccoli and chicken gravy.
• I bought my Phil Truin chicken from Suffolk Food Hall.