I hadn’t planned on last week being The Week of Chicken Two Ways, but that’s exactly what it turned out to be. The leftover chicken breasts from the cayenne-rubbed chicken with avocado salsa that I made on Monday turned into lemon-oregano chicken with braised leeks with lemon on Tuesday.
It started by looking for a new leek recipe. I’d made a savory leek-and-onion tart, leek-and-onion pizza, and spaghettini with leeks and Gorgonzola (which also had onions in it) and was feeling desperate for a new way to prepare the leeks from my CSA box. When I stumbled across a recipe for braised leeks with lemons, I was psyched—especially since I had CSA-box lemons on hand.
The chicken came in as a protein to go with the leeks. The recipe I used is actually for grilled lemon-oregano chicken drumsticks but I don’t have a barbecue nor did I have drumsticks (just the two leftover chicken breast) so I mostly used the recipe for the marinade.
It was quite simple: While the chicken soaked for a half hour in a mix of lemon juice, fresh oregano, minced garlic, olive oil, salt, and lemon zest, I cut the leeks in sixths lengthwise and put them in a bowl of water to soak for 15 minutes. Then I looked up what “braising” is, since I realized I really wasn’t sure.
Braising, I discovered, basically involves searing food at a high temperature and then cooking it for a long time over low heat. Crock-pot and slow-cooked dishes are generally braised meals. For the braised leeks, I melted two tablespoons of butter in a pan over high heat and added the leeks. Within five minutes, the leeks were browned and I reduced the heat, added chicken broth and lemon zest, and covered the skillet.
In a second pan, I heated up oil and started pan-frying the chicken. After about seven minutes, the chicken was cooked and the leeks were tender. I plated half of each with wild rice and packed up the other half for the next day’s lunch.
I loved the leeks—but then, two tablespoons of butter is bound to make you fall in love with just about anything. The real winner of this meal was the leek-chicken combination. The leeks, delicious as they were, were a bit rich and the chicken was a bit bold—tangy even—and so together, they complemented each other perfectly. It was a great dinner (and later, leftovers for lunch) and an excellent new way to enjoy leeks.