Last week I took the pledge in Jaime Oliver's cookbook, Jamie's Food Revolution, to teach at least one recipe from each chapter of the book to friends and family in hopes that you too will share and teach them to your friends and family. Last week I did the Vegetable Jalfrezi recipe from the Easy Curries chapter. This week I chose the Chicken and Leek Stroganoff from the Twenty Minute Meals chapter for a couple of reasons. First, leeks mean Springtime to me and like most of us on the East coast, I am craving Spring. Second, we have leeks and crimini mushrooms in the box this week...both of which are called for in the recipe.
We start off by cutting both ends off the leeks, quartering them lenthwise (picture up top) and then slicing them thinly. Don't throw those tops away! You can use them in stock or compost them, which is what I do. Our compost heap gets a cameo at the bottom of this post.
Next, you need to wash the chopped leeks well under running water. Leeks are dirty little buggers. They grown best in well-drained soil which often has a lot of sand in it. The dirt finds it's way into the layers of the leeks and tucks itself in snugly. When I rinse them, I use my hand to swish them around seperating the layers from one another.
Slice the mushrooms, and if you are lucky enough to find two little buddies like these guys, set them aside and let them hang around and add a bit of whimsy to your day.
Slice the chicken breasts into "little finger size pieces".
Oh my, I'm beginning to look like a Jaime Oliver groupie. I went on to the next step in the directions which is "put a large frying pan on a high heat and add a good lug of olive oil and a pat of butter." I grabbed my biggest frying pan which just happens to be a Jaime Oliver by T-FAL. I purchased it because it was big and on sale. Really!! It has nothing to do with him being the naked chef.
Add the leeks to the pan with white wine, a small glass of water, and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Let it bubble away for 5 minutes, covered loosely with a piece of aluminum foil.
I used a Torrontes which is known as the calling card of Argentine wine producers as it is only produced in Argentina. It's a nice wine for a dish like this since it's fruity and floral, yet quite dry. It would be a great one to serve with the dish as well.
Meanwhile, finely chop the parsely, stalks and all. Remove the foil and add the chicken strips, most of the parsely, the cream, and the mushrooms. Stir, bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to medium and simmer for 10 minutes. Just before serving, cut your lemon in half and squeeze the juice of one half into the stroganoff. Season to taste. Jaime suggests serving it with basmati rice, but I chose to serve it over brown rice, which I thought went well with the earthiness of the mushrooms and leeks. This was delicious, and although I don't cook with cream on a regular basis, it was definitey worth the splurge.
Here is our compost heap. It is also the convergence point for what must be every earthworm withing 100 milesI If you dig down about 4 inches you will hit the motherlode of red wigglers. My technique is very low-tech. I pile everything up; leaves, garden trimmings, veggie scraps - and if it needs watering, I water it (currently, there is snow on the heap, so no worries about it drying out for awhile). When there are too many things on top (like in this picture) I turn them under with my pitchfork. At the start of spring, I shovel the top 12 inches or so into another pile, and what's left is the black gold (and earthworms!) that I spread on my garden beds to give them a nutrient boost just when they need it.
One last enviro note....I'm loving the 100% recycled foil from Reynolds Wrap. Finally!! A big ol' company making a good quality foil from recycled aluminum.
Chicken and Leek Strogonoff
*This is the recipe as it appears in the book. It serves 2, however, I doubled it to serve 4. The only inredient I didn't double was the cream...I used two cups instead of what would have been three if I doubled it. That worked out very nicely.
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup long-grain or Basmatti Rice (I used short brown rice)
1 large leek
big handful of mushrooms (I used cremini)
2 chicken breasts
a knob of butter
a glass of good, tasty white wine
a bunch of fresh parsley
1 1/2 cups heavy cream*
Cook your rice according to the packet instructions in salted boiling water.
Cut both ends off the leek, quarter lengthways and then slice across thinly, then wash well under running water. Slice the mushrooms. Slice the Chicken Breasts into finger size pieces.
Put a large frying pan on a high heat and add a good lug of olive oil and the knob of butter.
Add the leek to the pan with the white wine and a small glass of water and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Let it bubble away for 5 minutes loosely covered with a piece of foil.
Meanwhile, finely chop the parsley, stalks and all. Remove the foil and add the chicken strips, most of the parsley, the cream and the mushrooms.
Stir, and bring back to a boil then turn the heat down and simmer for 10 minutes.
Just before serving, cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice of one half into the stroganoff. Season to taste. Spoon rice onto each plate, and top with the stroganoff. Scatter with the remainder of the chopped parsley.