Brussels Sprouts and Leek Soup, with fried potatoes and ricotta

Brussels Sprouts and Leek Soup

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Chicken Burgers

Chicken Burgers, with bacon, barley and leeks and home-made breadcrumbs

Chicken Burgers, with bacon, barley and leeks and home-made breadcrumbs

This was supposed to be chicken pie. Until I realised on the way back from food shopping on Saturday evening that I’d forgotten to buy organic eggs – for the pastry. Oh.

So, after deciding to go with how I would make the filling for a pie I then wrapped the cooked chicken and stuff in Savoy cabbage leaves. Nice. Still, there are certain foods that I just don’t get – dumplings! That’s one of them. Besides cabbage wrapped chicken. With chicken leftovers, including half a yoghurt and walnut bread in the freezer, I had to have a go at breading these instead. Now that I’ve found this new thing – breadcrumbs. Well, I’ve never been able to eat shop-bought. And now I can’t get enough of home-made. And these Chicken burgers were just right. Almost. Really want to try them with fresh sage. No, not dried that I have in my cupboard. Only fresh would do here.

But that’s for next weekend. Come to think of it, why bother to poach chicken for burgers. Over here minced or ground chicken isn’t readily available, if at all. Beef, lamb, pork, turkey and venison. The latter I must try. It’s just not cold enough to start making stews that take hours. No, it’ll be these sage infused burgers with a salad dressed in home-made mayo (that I couldn’t make last weekend…remember, forgot to buy the eggs). Far more suitable for this weather. And for the onslaught of parties for Hallowe’en and, dare I mention it, Christmas. Phew. You don’t wanna see the expression on my face. Scrooge would be proud of me. Anyway, I’m really into playing with finger food and the like. Not that I’ll be throwing any parties. And, chances are I won’t be going to any. I’ve done my time. However, I’ve always loved the idea of doing party food. And why not here? Just don’t expect an invite! Mini Kievs, anyone?

Chicken Burgers, with bacon, barley and leeks and home-made breadcrumbs

  • Servings: 2 (for lunch) or should make about 8 small burgers (5.5 x 2.5 cm or 2 x 1 in)
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  • oil
  • 300g (10.58 oz) x leeks, white and pale green only, sliced crossways into discs and thoroughly rinsed
  • knob of butter, for the leeks
  • 200g (7.055 oz) x cooked chicken meat (poached chicken meat from leg quarters, that include drumsticks and thighs), chopped
  • 40g (1.411 oz) x cooked bacon bits/lardons/pancetta, chopped small
  • 40g (1.411 oz) x cooked pearl barley, cook about 80g (2.822 oz) dried weight to pack’s instructions (which will leave leftovers)
  • 1 x small pack cream cheese with garlic and herbs (about 100g (3.527 oz) used)
  • seasoning, both freshly ground sea salt and black pepper, to personal taste
  • 1 x egg, separated (use the yolk within the chicken mixture and the white for dipping the burgers into before adding breadcrumbs)
  • 90g (3.175 oz) x home-made dried breadcrumbs (click for the recipe) + extra (it’s always best to have extra breadcrumbs to hand)

For the poached chicken:

  • 1 x organic carrot, washed, trimmed and roughly chopped
  • 140g (4.938 oz) x green part of leek, thoroughly rinsed
  • 2 x celery stalks/ribs, washed, trimmed and roughly chopped
  • 4 x organic garlic cloves, root end cut off and shelled
  • 2 x dried bay leaves, split
  • 20 x juniper berries
  • 500g (1.102 lb) x chicken leg quarters (drumstick and thighs)
  • 500ml (1.057 pint) x cold water

Measurements within brackets above are approximate only.


  • To poach the chicken (as I love to do as then I have great stock for soups, gravies/sauces and risottos!) then add all of those ingredients to a large saucepan with lid and put on electric heat No 4 (out of 6). Bring to a boil, reduce heat to No 2 and simmer for at least an hour. The longer the more flavoursome both the chicken and stock will be. After simmering for an hour I simply turn off the heat and allow the contents to cool sufficiently before straining and/or storing overnight. To strain remove the chicken pieces and set aside, then pour the stock through a metal colander into a suitable bowl, mash the remaining vegetables with the back of a large metal serving spoon to extract as much of their juice, and nutrients, as possible. Before using strain again through a fine wire metal sieve.
  • In the meantime add the prepped leeks to a saucepan with a glug of oil. Put on heat No 3 with a lid and leave for about 10 minutes, stirring through occasionally if necessary. When nicely softened continue to cook on same heat, making sure there’s no sign of scorching. If that’s the case reduce the heat and stir more often. I prefer to cook mine for at least 30 minutes, allowing them to catch slightly on base of pan as that always brings out a sweeter flavour. When nicely sticky add a knob of butter, take off heat and set aside.
  • Remove all bones, sinews and ucky stuff from the chicken leg quarters, setting the meat aside and discarding the bones and stuff. Chop the meat quite finely, and set aside.
  • Cook the pearl barley to the pack’s instructions. To save time I do soak the barley overnight in plenty of cold water after rinsing the barley until the water runs clear. After rinsing the following day I add the barley to a saucepan with plenty of cold water to cover, put on heat No 4 and bring to a boil with a lid on pan. Reduce heat to No 2 and simmer until cooked, about 20 plus minutes is usually long enough to get the barley nicely cooked. Drain, rinse in cold water, drain again and set aside.
  • Cook the bacon until crisp, and when cool enough either chop or break into very small bits/pieces. Set aside.
  • Separate the egg and add the yolk to the mixture in the follow step below, add the white to a bowl and whisk lightly before using.
  • Add the chicken meat, leeks, barley, bacon, egg yolk and cream cheese to a large bowl and mix well. Chill for at least an hour! The mixture will be so much easier to shape if well chilled.
  • Prepare the breadcrumbs (click for the recipe) and set aside in a large bowl.
  • Preheat oven to 200°C or 392°F.
  • Wet hands and grab about a heaped dessertspoonful of the chicken mixture and place in one hand. Squeeze quite firmly to extract any trapped air, then gently shape the burger into a patty of about 2 cm thick and 5 cm wide (1 x 2 in). Place on a plate until all are shaped. When ready to coat them gently lift each burger with a fork, place in the bowl with the egg white, lift and make sure each side is coated in egg white before adding to the breadcrumbs. Again using a fork do the same to make sure the burger is evenly coated. Lift and roll the burger lightly to coat the edges as well. When sufficiently coated set on a non stick baking tray (if using a baking tray that isn’t non stick then do grease the tray lightly with butter or oil). Just before placing them in the oven I prefer to lift each one and place in breadcrumbs again, this time shaping them by tapping gently with my fingertips to get them nicely round and flat on top. Then place them back on to the tray and place in the centre of the oven for about 20 – 30 minutes, or until it’s possible to see the filling ooze slightly through the breadcrumb coating. Might sound a bit weird, but that’s the sign I’m looking for. As if they’re beginning to sweat! Then they’re baked for about 10 minutes more to ensure they’re piping hot in the inside and the breadcrumbs are nicely golden.

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All rights reserved (© Todos los derechos reservados) – Copyright © Johnny H Hepburn

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