Ah! Chicken and leek, a match made in heaven, or possibly somewhere in France that Maggie and I haven’t visited yet.
This is our favourite cold-weather chicken dish. There are several steps in the recipe but it’s not too complicated. The fresh thyme is an essential ingredient for achieving the best result, which has elegant textures and flavours. A wine companion? Try a subtle chardonnay, Chablis perhaps, or Sancerre, how Sauvignon Blanc was born to be used.
1½ kg of chicken pieces (we use skinless chops – thighs with one bone removed – and middle wing segments, the latter being important for texture)
1 tbsp olive oil
salt & pepper
2 sticks of celery, coarsely sliced
8-10 French shallots, peeled and halved
1-2 leeks, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
80ml of brandy
¾ cup chicken stock
2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
2 tbsp sour cream (crème fraiche)
- Preheat oven to 160C.
- Add oil to a warm roasting pan, add pieces of chicken in one or two batches and roast for 20 minutes, turning after 10 minutes. (This procedure browns the chicken pieces evenly and leaves your cooktop un-spattered!) Remove to a dish and season with salt and pepper.
- Heat butter in a heavy based, flame-proof casserole, large enough to hold all the ingredients. Add shallots, leek , garlic and celery to the heated pan and saute for 8 minutes over gentle heat. Add herbs and chicken pieces to the pan.
- Add brandy and cook for a couple of minutes to reduce. Add the chicken stock and bring to the boil.
- Place lid on casserole, then transfer to the oven and bake for ¾ to 1 hour.
- Remove from the oven, remove the chicken pieces and transfer to a warm serving dish. Remove herbs.
- Cook sauce in casserole over a medium heat on the stove and reduce slightly before adding the sour cream and cooking gently for a few minutes. Check for seasoning, thicken to suit and pour sauce over the chicken to serve.