{recipe} Chicken with Leeks

I have been really busy so I haven’t been cooking that much lately, but I did make this last week and then ate the leftovers for several days after that. This is a really simple, foolproof recipe that is elegant and delicious. My aunt Sherrie, the “queen of chicken” (since she basically only makes chicken) got this recipe from someone and was kind enough to share it with the whole family! I served it with a wild rice blend but you could also serve it with mashed potatoes or buttered noodles. It’s also easy because it’s like chicken+salad all in one dish so you only need a starch to go with it- I think you could even get away with just throwing down a loaf of crusty bread to sop up the sauce- and then you are totally going the super simple route.

Leeks are grown in soil so they tend to have dirt all throughout so it’s really important to make sure they are clean through and through. You want to cut off the root end and throw that away, then slice them thinly (a couple millimeters? My intrinsic metric system is not that well-developed, but that sounds right. 1/8 of an inch or less.) You can slice the white part and the light green parts but you shouldn’t use the dark green parts because they are kind of tough. (In a restaurant you would save the dark green parts and use them to flavor a stock, or you might julienne them and fry them to use as a garnish. At home, I tend to throw them away. I mean, compost them. You should compost them unless stock-making is in your near future.) To get the leeks clean, put the sliced leeks into a bowl of cold water and break up the little rings with your fingers. Agitate them in the water then put them in a strainer and run more water over them. Leave them in the strainer to air dry until you need to use them.

Also apropos of nothing really, I recently learned how to say leeks in Spanish – they are called “poros.” I don’t think of leeks as being particularly a staple of Mexican food, but, good to learn!




Chicken with Leeks
This will make plenty for 8 people.

Ingredients:

  • about 4 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts, trimmed
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
  • 2 shallots, chopped finely
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 2 cups sliced leeks
  • 1 cup heavy cream (can use less if you like a lighter sauce or think that’s too fattening)
  • 5 T dijon mustard
  • 1 bag of prewashed baby spinach leaves (hence the ease of the recipe- you can, of course, just use regular spinach and wash it yourself but I am lazy)
  • salt and pepper

Method:

  • Cut each chicken breast into a couple of pieces, so they are about 2-3 inches by 1-2 inches (doesn’t really matter, you just want them to be manageable and basically the same size as each other.) Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  • Heat the oil in a big saucepan over medium high heat. (I like to use a non-non-stick pan- ie, a “sticky” pan like stainless steel- for maximum brown saucy bit creation.) Add the chicken, garlic, and shallots and cook, stirring, until the chicken is browned.
  • Add the wine and lower the heat to about medium low. Cover the pot and cook for 20 minutes.
  • After 20 minutes, open the pot and add the leeks. Simmer 5 minutes.
  • Mix the cream and the mustard together with a whisk or by shaking them in a jar together. Add to the pan and cook for about 2 minutes until it looks and tastes tasty and saucy. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed.
  • Put the spinach in a big flat bowl and put the chicken and sauce on top. Serve immediately.

Note: if you have leftovers, the best way to enjoy this dish the next day is to just put the chicken and the spinach and everything in a frying pan together- it doesn’t need any oil or anything- and cook it up. You will now have a similar dish but with cooked spinach. MMMM!

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