This recipe is a great way to use up the tops of leeks, that usually get thrown away or composted and makes a really tasty dish that is low maintenance- meaning you can spend more time with your mum.
For the chicken we would suggest either using a whole bird or just the thighs, as it will be in the oven for a little while and breast meat (although you could use it and cook the bake for less time) is easier to overcook.
Preheat oven to 190C - Serves 4
1. To make the leek sauce, take the tops of the leeks and chop finely, before sweating them in a saucepan with a little butter, one of the sliced onions and the crushed cloves of garlic. Once all of the ingredients have softened, add the glass of wine and bring to the boil before adding the hot chicken stock. Cook the vegetables until they are soft but not so much that you lose the green colour of the leek tops.
2. Using a stick blender (or blender) blitz the leek tops and stock until you have a smooth, vibrant green sauce. At this point season the sauce with salt and pepper. Mix the gnocchi through the sauce and pour into an ovenproof dish.
3. Next scatter the finely sliced onions and leeks on top of the green gnocchi mixture before placing the boneless chicken thighs on top. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, you want to have the chicken skin exposed to the dry heat of the oven, so that it goes crispy as it roasts. Drizzle with a little oil to help this along.
4. Roast the chicken & gnocchi for around 45-60 mins, until the juices run clear when you insert a skewer in the chicken. If you are worried that the chicken is not cooked through just slice the biggest piece and ensure it is cooked all the way to the middle.
5. Mix together the breadcrumbs, parsley and grated cheese and sprinkle over the top to serve.
If you are using a whole chicken then follow the steps as above but roast the bird for around an hour and twenty minutes. To ensure it is cooked follow the same principles as with the thighs, insert a knife or a skewer to check that the juice from the bird run clear, if in doubt just carve some of the meat and check temperature and appearance.
When using the whole bird, or even bone in joints, do not throw away the carcass. Put it into a large pan with plenty of cold water, an onion sliced in half (with the skin left on- this will colour your stock) and any other veg trimmings you might have, or any aromatics you may feel like using. Bring the pot to the boil and then turn down to a simmer until you have a deep, rich chicken stock. Use this in risotto or our favourite is a hot, sour broth infused with ginger, lemongrass, garlic and chilli. The stock also freezes really well, either in an ice cube tray, or in small sealable freezers bags.
Credit: Keenan Humble, Development Chef @ Alchemic Kitchen
8 boneless chicken thighs
1kg fresh gnocchi
5 medium leeks (sliced, saving the green tops)
2 medium onions (sliced)
4 cloves garlic (crushed)
2 tbsp parsley (fresh or dried)
1L chicken stock
250ml white wine (if you do not want to use wine just add 250ml of extra stock.)
Pinch of salt & pepper
2 slices stale bread (toasted & pulsed in food processor to make breadcrumbs)
100g hard cheese (parmesan preferable, grated finely)