Pan-Roasted Chicken with Leeks and Rice Grits
Some days you head to the grocery store with a list of items to purchase for specific recipes you want to make and other days you just wander into the store to grab a few ingredients that catch your eye; you aren’t sure what you’re going to make, but you let whatever looks best or freshest be your inspiration.
This is what happened when I spied some gorgeous organic leeks at Whole Foods last week. It’s rare to find leeks that are large in size and look so inviting and beautiful. I had to have them, so I put them in my basket. I knew I wasn’t in the mood for soup (the first place my mind wanders when I see leeks), but I brought them home anyway because what’s the chance that I would find leeks that looked that good again?
Shortly after that purchase, we headed to the North Carolina mountains for a few days to discover that winter was still in existence at 4200 feet and that comfort food was a requirement with the chilly temperatures. Maybe that soup wasn’t such a bad idea after all…I searched through some recipes online for inspiration and found one that sounded like a wonderful rustic dish with a bit of an elevated twist. What could be better than pan-roasted chicken with a cream sauce that included bacon, leeks, and garlic?!
While I followed the recipe to prepare the sauce, it really was more like thick gravy rather than a refined cream sauce, so I added more chicken stock to thin it out. The lemon juice added brightness to the dish, but it is not necessary. I didn’t include the parsley, though the recipe calls for it, as I didn’t think it paired well with the other flavors. I did garnish the dish with parsley for a pop of color and added just a bit of final seasoning with salt and pepper.
The recipe called for 8 chicken legs, however, we cut up a whole chicken into ten pieces (we cut the breasts in half) and used that instead. The only thing I would recommend is to cut back on the oven cooking time, especially if you use the breast meat. You’ve already seared the meat, so it just needs to finish in the oven. Check it after 20 minutes (it may need longer) and pull the chicken from the oven when the breast meat registers 160 degrees on an instant read thermometer and 165 degrees on the thigh. Let it rest while you prepare the pan sauce.
I decided to pair the dish with rice knowing that there would be a delicious sauce with the pan drippings from the seared chicken, cooked bacon and caramelized leeks and garlic and we did not want to miss a single bite of that sauce.
While on a media tour to the Gulf Coast several weeks ago, I received a new (to me) ingredient, Delta Blue Rice Grits. While I know grits and I know rice, I wasn’t familiar with “midlins,” as they’re called, which is broken grains of rice. An artisan ingredient that has been produced on a family farm for over 90 years, this was the kind of product we enjoy using. Since it was a different ingredient to work with, I made the basic rice grits recipe, which was perfect to go with the chicken and cream sauce. A cross between rice and grits with quite a bit of starchiness, they had an interesting texture and flavor and I look forward to trying them again in a risotto.
Late night food photos are not our favorite pictures to share with you (and they can be especially challenging in the mountains with the clouds and trees in the evening), but this dish is worthy of a post, so we went with the best photos we could capture at the time. This dish definitely has the seal of approval of Mr. B, and as you may know, we are pretty picky about recipes we give thumbs up to.
The arrival of spring is interrupted this weekend with temperatures dropping (it was 35 degrees in Atlanta this morning). This is a wonderful and simple dish to prepare that will delight your taste buds and warm your soul during the last throes of winter.
Have a great weekend!
Pan-Roasted Chicken with Leeks
This simple to prepare rustic dish is a perfect weeknight meal. Full of flavor, it's hearty and soul-satisfying. Serve with rice or rice grits to sop up every bit of the delicious sauce.
3 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 whole chicken (3 1/2 to 4 pounds), cut into 10 pieces, preferably organic (or use 8 chicken drumsticks, about 2 pounds)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
3 cloves garlic, smashed
2 large leeks, white and light green parts only, halved lengthwise and sliced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth, or more to achieve desired consistency of the sauce
1/2 cup half-and-half
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, if desired (I did not use)
1 to 2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice, plus lemon wedges, for serving
1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
2. Add the bacon pieces to a large heavy-bottomed ovenproof skillet (or use a cast iron skillet) and cook over medium-high heat until some of the fat begins to render, about 5 minutes. Push the bacon to the side of the pan or remove them with a slotted spoon, if you prefer, leaving behind the bacon fat. Reserve the bacon.
3. Pat the chicken pieces dry and season with kosher salt and pepper. Over medium-high heat, add the pieces to the pan, skin side down first, a few pieces at a time so not to crowd the pan and cook until they start to achieve a nice sear, about 5 minutes. Turn and sear the pieces in teh other side.
4. Remove chicken from the pan and then stir in the garlic and leeks (and bacon, if it was removed). Arrange the chicken on top of the bacon-leek mixture, adding back in any accumulated chicken juices. Transfer to the oven and roast until the chicken is golden and a thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 160 degrees F, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a platter.
5. Carefully return the skillet to the stovetop over medium-high heat and sprinkle in the flour and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add the broth and half-and-half and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Bring to a boil and cook until slightly reduced, about 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the parsley (if using) and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Spoon the sauce over the chicken. Serve with the remaining lemon wedges.
Adapted from FoodNetwork.com
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