There’s nothing new with the combination of flavours in the dish below. At this time of year, though, leeks really do come into their own. So, too, do mushrooms and root vegetables. Have to say here that leeks aren’t one of my favourite vegetables as the texture, when cooked, tends to be a tad slimy for my liking. But, when I cooked this I was surprised at how good all of these warm, Autumnal flavours are, including the leeks.
Chicken with Caramelised Shallots
- oil – rapeseed or a nice, fruity olive oil
- 300g (10.5 oz) closed cup mushrooms, wiped, small sliced in ½, larger cut into 6 or 8 pieces
- 2x chicken leg quarters, or approx 500g chicken thighs and drumsticks, skin and excess fat removed
- 1 x chicken stock cube
- 500ml (1.05 pt US Liq) water
- 2 x dried bay leaves
- 4 x large sprigs of fresh thyme
- 2 x carrots, peeled and chopped into 2 – 3 cm (1 inch) pieces
- 2 x celery stalks, washed and chopped into half
- 1 x large leek, white part & mid-green split in half & washed. Green part washed thoroughly and added to the stock
- 2 x garlic cloves, in shell
- pinch chilli powder/flakes, or more to personal taste
- 125g (4.4 oz) shallots, topped & tailed, peeled and kept whole
- salad potatoes, scrubbed, halved and added to stock (see instructions)
Measurements within brackets above are approximate only.
- After cleaning the mushrooms chop small into halves, larger into 4 – 6 pieces. Preheat a heavy-based saucepan at electric No 4 (out of 6), add enough oil to coat its base. When hot enough add the mushrooms and stir through. After 5 – 10 minutes you might notice that the mushrooms ooze a brown liquid, which they will eventually absorb. When they have it’s then that they will start to turn golden. Don’t leave them at this stage. Keep stirring through to prevent them from sticking or scorching.
- When nice and golden transfer the mushrooms to a suitable container. Put same saucepan back on same heat. Add a little more oil, then place the chicken pieces inside. Allow to settle without stirring for a good 5 minutes before turning each piece over to brown the other side. This might have to be repeated to get them nice and brown.
- In the meantime prep the carrots, celery and the green part of the leek. With the latter I slice mine about 1cm or the length of you little finger nail. The green part needs to be thoroughly washed (the same with the white) before adding to the stock. Measure out 500ml water. When the chicken is nicely golden simply pour over the water, add the stock cube, bay leaves, sprigs of thyme, carrots, celery and leek. Sprinkle over a little chilli powder; a large pinch will do. Bring to a boil on same heat, then simmer on a lower heat, about No 3, without a lid to help reduce the stock. After 15 – 20 minutes lower the heat again to No 2, and add a lid. Continue to poach the vegetables for at least another 10 minutes.
- After adding all the ingredients to the stock it’s a good enough time to prep the shallots. Easy to do, all they need are topping and tailing, peeled and put into a heavy-based saucepan with a drizzle of oil. If using a heavy pan do preheat before adding the shallots. If using a lighter pan I would cook them over low heat only. In my case I use No 2, with a lid on, for 15 – 20 minutes, then lower heat to No 1, gently turn them over and, without a lid, continue to cook for another 10 minutes. By then I take them off heat, replace the lid and re-heat them just before serving.
- This is how it all looks after cooking the chicken – a bit of a mess! Easy to lift out the chicken, garlic and bay leaves, though. Which just leaves you to strain the stock using a metal colander into a suitable bowl. The vegetables I discard. However, if this is your meal then do retain the carrots. I’m not especially keen on them. In the photo I’d forgotten that I’d used the mid-green part of the leek in the stock as well. As they taste so fabulous at this time of year I’m not going to do that again. Instead, it’ll be cooked along with the white. Once you’ve strained the stock return it to the same saucepan, and prep the potatoes. Add them, bring to a boil, turn heat down to No 2, cover with a lid and allow to simmer until cooked. The beauty of this is that it doesn’t really matter if you over cook them, as I tend to mash them into the stock to eat them anyway.
- For my lunch I do take the meat off the bone, once it’s cool enough to handle. Then, as soon as the potatoes are cooked I add the meat to the same pan and heat through just before serving. Shallots are put back on heat for a few minutes to heat them through. Then, carefully lift them out unto plates that have already been heated. Add the mushrooms to that pan and heat through. Transfer to the pan with the potatoes and stock. At this stage, as long as the pan that you’ve used to cook the shallots isn’t scorched at its base in any way then I pour in a little of the stock, swirl and pour that into the stock as well. If that all makes sense. If the pan with the shallots has scorched then don’t do this as all you’ll get is a burnt flavour to your stock. When I do this it not only grabs all of those sticky, gooey flavours but adds a lovely golden brown colour to the stock.
Chicken with Caramelised Shallots
- Put a large heavy-based saucepan on heat electric No 4 (out of 6) and add enough oil to coat base of pan.
- Prep mushrooms, and when pan is hot enough add them, stirring through – don’t leave the pan until they’re nice and golden.
- Remove skin and excess fat from chicken.
- When mushrooms are nicely golden transfer to a suitable bowl.
- Add a little more oil, and on same heat place the chicken into pan and allow to seal – about 5 – 10 minutes each side.
- Preheat a small, heavy-based pan on heat No 2. Add just enough oil to cover its base. Prep the shallots and place inside. Put lid on and fry for around 15 – 20 minutes. Lower heat to No 1, carefully lift and turn each one over for a further 10 minutes cooking time – without the lid.
- When shallots are cooked simply take off heat and set aside.
- Prep carrots, celery and leek, keeping the green part of leek for next stage. Garlic can remain in shell.
- When chicken is nicely browned measure out 500ml water, pour over chicken with the chicken stock cube, bay leaves, thyme, carrots, celery, green part of leek and garlic. Add a pinch of chilli powder, too.
- Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 40 minutes. Remove one leg or piece and check for any signs of pinkness. If so, cook for another 10 – 15 minutes.
- Strain stock through a metal colander into a suitable bowl. Lift out chicken, bay leaves and garlic cloves (discard vegetables in colander). Place these on a plate. Return the strained stock to the saucepan with the bay leaves and garlic.
- Prep potatoes, place them into the stock, bring to a boil and simmer until cooked.
- Prep white part of leek, add to a saucepan with a drizzle of oil. Fry on heat No 2 for 10 – 15 minutes with a lid on pan. Check halfway through and, if necessary, turn the leeks over. Add a dessertspoonfull of the stock to help keep them moist. Lower heat to keep them warm.
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