This chicken confit is a revelatory experience, especially if you use a biodynamic or free-range chicken. The flavour of the dark meat of the chicken is enhanced, and the smoky bacon and fennel give this dish an appeal for a memorable meal.
Pat the chicken dry to remove any moisture and place in a large shallow roasting tray. Combine the shallots, garlic, bay leaves, thyme and salt and spread over the chicken. Refrigerate for 4-6 hours.
Preheat the oven to 90ºC.
Rinse the chicken and pat dry with paper towels. Put the chicken in a casserole dish so the marylands fit snugly in one layer. Pour on the olive oil and cook in the oven for 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the dish for 1 hour. Drain, reserving some of the oil, then refrigerate the chicken for at least 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 160ºC. Place a roasting tin in the oven to heat up, and when hot, add the bacon, fennel and a touch of oil from the confit. Cook for 20 minutes, turning the fennel from time to time to achieve a nice even colour. Remove from the oven and set aside in a warm place.
Heat a little of the reserved confit oil in a large frying pan over high heat. Add the mushrooms and butter and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes, or until the mushrooms are cooked through, then finish with the parsley. Add to the roasting tin with the fennel.
Dust the chicken with the flour. Heat a little confit oil in a clean frying pan over medium heat and sear the chicken, skin side first. When you have a nice golden colour, turn over and cook for 2 minutes, or until the chicken is brown and crispy.
Serve the vegetables and chicken together on a large serving platter or on individual plates with the chicken in the centre and the bacon, fennel and mushrooms scattered around the chicken.