Turkey leg confit recipe

By Francis Lam
Published November 18, 2010 2:01AM (EST)

Adapted from Higgins Restaurant and Bar


  • Turkey legs, thighs (and wings, necks, gizzards, too, if you'd like)
  • 2 teaspoons (7 grams) of kosher salt per pound of turkey (Diamond Crystal brand; use less if it's Mortons, and halve it if you're using regular table salt)
  • ¼ teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder, quatre épices, or your own blend of white and black pepper, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon. Anyway, about ¼ teaspoon of the stuff per pound of turkey
  • Duck fat, turkey fat, chicken fat or olive oil -- or a combination of these -- as needed to cover (Don't be shy with it, Cherie. It'll be OK.)
  • Whole sweet spices (cinnamon sticks, juniper berries, allspice), garlic cloves and herbs on the stem (sage, rosemary, thyme), to taste, optional but recommended
  • Bread crumbs, for serving, optional
  • Turkey skin cracklins, for serving, optional (If making these, take the skin off the meat before you season it and fry it separately in the confit fat.)


  1. The day before mix the salt and spices, and rub the entire amount into the turkey, making sure it gets even coverage. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.
  2. Preheat oven to 325º F. Place turkey in a deep pan, ideally one where the meat fits fairly snugly. (It will help you use less fat.) Heat fat or olive oil on stove until it's molten and warm. If using, add the garlic cloves, herbs and spices (say, two of each of the above, but one cinnamon stick. Your call, but they will perfume the fat nicely), and pour over the turkey. Give the pan a shake to make sure the fat surrounds and covers each piece of meat. You're pretty much done working.
  3. Bake until the meat is very tender but not quite falling off the bone, about 2 ½ hours. Check occasionally that the oven is not too hot, meaning that you want the fat to look like a bare simmer, much more like a poach than a deep fry. There should be very few bubbles breaking the surface. This is actually the most important thing in keeping the final product tender and moist. If you want to be safe, you could even cook it at 275º, but it would take maybe another hour.
  4. Poke at the meat with a fork, and when it starts to come away from the bone easily, remove it from the fat and let it drain on a pan while it cools. When you can handle it, pull the meat off the bone and chill, covered, in the fridge until ready. Strain and keep the fat in the fridge. It's great for cooking potatoes or flavoring bread crumbs, or whatever you like.
  5. To serve: Reheat the confit in the oven while the breast roasts, in a covered pan with a little bit of stock, gravy or even water for moisture. You just need to reheat it, not cook it, so it shouldn't take very long. If you'd like some crispness, top it with toasted bread crumbs or cracklins at the table.

Tomorrow: A new take on sautéed greens. You gotta get your veggies, too!

Francis Lam

Francis Lam is Features Editor at Gilt Taste, provides color commentary for the Cooking Channel show Food(ography), and tweets at @francis_lam.

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