Monday, March 17, 2014

Leek tops and slow cooked chicken

I always try not to waste food, but until I had spent some time in a kitchen with my French friends and neighbours making a communal charity meal, I never used the green leek tops. I was a chop-em-off and compost them girl! When I tried this at the salle des fêtes kitchen, cries of horror went up all around me and it was explained these would be tidied up, thoroughly washed and added to the vegetable soup to give bulk, but more importantly flavour.

French Village Diaries Leeks soup potager recipes
Leek tops
I am now converted. Whether they make their way into a soup or I use them as a flavour bed for a slow-cooked chicken, I never now throw them out (except for the first few outer leaves). This weekend I’ve used them in my slow cooker and they are a gift that keeps on giving. Having flavoured the slow-cooked whole chicken, the leeks were then added to the stockpot with the chicken carcass to make a delicious stock. The stock then became a tasty soup and a base for a risotto using the leftover chicken and the white leeks. There was also enough cooked chicken for a homemade pizza.

French Village Diaries slow cooker chicken recipe
Ready for the slow cooker
If you have a slow cooker, here is my tried and tested, perfectly moist chicken.

1 whole free-range chicken
1 onion or three leek tops, finely sliced
1 carrot finely sliced
Herbs and spices of choice
1 glass of wine – I use white or rosé
Enough water to give a liquid level of 2 cm in the bottom

Brown the chicken on all sides in a frying pan to give it some colour.
Place the chopped vegetables in the slow cooker with the glass of wine and then place the chicken on top. If necessary add water to cover the bottom to a depth of 2 cm and add your herbs or spices of choice, season with salt and pepper and then cook on low for about six hours. The chicken will be falling off the bone, but remains deliciously moist. My favourite flavours are cumin and curry powder rubbed into the skin, or parsley sprinkled over plus a few lemon slices added to the cavity or a crushed garlic and herb rub, but the possibilities are endless. This is a great dish if you want to spend the afternoon in the garden or out on your bikes.

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