Thursday, February 8, 2018

Roasted Chicken Legs & Braised Leeks

How to enjoy roast chicken without the bother of roasting one? Yes, there is always the local rotisseriein France, they are as common as bakeries and beauty centres. But the real answer is chicken legs! They are inexpensive, succulent, and because of their being the dark meat, contains more iron than breasts. They are also a simple way of ensuring of having evenly cooked meat, that is, no overdone breasts because there aren't any. When a large quantity of chicken legs are roasted, the chef gets many of the same benefits of roasting a whole chicken: crispy skin, lots of leftovers, a good amount of drippings for gravy, and meaty bones from which to make flavoursome broth.

Preheat oven to 218 degrees C/425 degrees F. Though any oven pan can be used, a rimmed baking sheet does the trick because it's capacious so as to contain numerous legs, shallow enough to encourage crisping, and has sufficient depth to contain the drippings. The pan can be lined with foil or in my case covered with a thin, flexible, usable pan protector. Keeping the seasoning simple, using just butter . . .

. . .  and coarse salt . . . 

. . . goes a long way in tastiness.

While the chicken is roasting, prepare the braised leeks. Trim off the tough green tops and roots. Slice down the length without cutting through the side or the bottom. Splay out the leek layers under running water and rinse well, targeting any trapped grit or soil. Slice thinly. Melt a knob of butter in a skillet, add the leeks, stir for a minute or two until mostly wilted, lower the heat, cover, and simmer until tender which takes around fifteen minutes. They will braise in their own juices. Keep warm until the chicken is done.

Depending on the size and number of chicken legs, it could take from thirty to sixty minutes before they become crackly crisp.  Our six medium ones took around thirty minutes. No need to turn them. Pierce one in the thickest part to see if the juices run clear.

Place them on the bed of leeks. The butter theme is strong in this one, with textural side notes both crisp and soft.

Left-over chicken can be shredded off the bones, portioned, and frozen. Once defrosted, it can be added to pasta and grains, stuffed inside tacos, enchiladas, and pita bread, tossed with avocado. It's delicious served hot, warm, or chilled.

There was a nice amount of jellied drippings which I put on left-over pasta shells and peas. The next day I added shredded chicken and gently reheated. Most excellent.

Knowledgeable, talented, and thrifty cooks always have made various stocks from meat bones and vegetables. So the exceedingly fashionable 'bone broth' which is being presented as something fabulously unique, has been around a long time. Regardless your perspective, it is gorgeous stuff. Using a suitably sized pot, throw in the meaty bones along with savoury veggies like carrots, onions, celery, herbs too, like bay leaf, parsley, thyme, sage, don't forget spices also, like peppercorns, cloves, ginger, cayenne, garlic. Cover with water. Simmer, partially liddedso broth can become concentratedfor three to five hours. A steamy kitchen and a gurgle here, a warble there, coming from a stock pot relaxes me like few things can. However, if you are more out than in your home, do the simmering in a crock pot overnight. Instant pot and pressure cookers are also alternatives.

À la prochaine!

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