March 25, 2006

Chicken and Leeks with Crème Fraiche

Wow, this is one of the best chicken dishes I have made in a while—it is even up there with Ina Garten’s Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic! And y’all know I love cooking with crème fraiche—it makes me feel so sophisticated. Plus the use of the hard apple cider combined with the leeks is unbelievably good and also an interesting combination that I had not had before. In fact, this was also the first time I had cooked with leeks—I had no idea what a fabulous ingredient they are!

If you are not familiar with leeks, they are in between a scallion and an onion in flavor and texture. What I loved about them is that they are a bit milder than onions and hold up better in cooking so that you can actually make them as a side dish all on their own. Why do we not cook more with this awesome item?

So here is the recipe adapted from Martha Stewart. The original recipe is for 4 servings, but since I was cooking this dish for just me and my friend, Carrie, the recipe below is how I made it for 2 servings:

  • 2 Chicken breasts on the bone (I swear chicken on the bone is always so much more moist and tastier when cooked)
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 2 leeks, white and pale-green parts only, cut crosswise into 3-inch pieces and halved lengthwise, rinsed well (See Note 1)
  • ¾ cup good-quality hard apple cider (See Note 2)
  • ½ tbsp coarsely chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • ¼ rounded cup of crème fraiche
  1. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Melt butter and oil in a large sauté pan (I used my 5 quart sauté pan) or enameled cast-iron Dutch oven over medium-high heat until just bubbling.
  2. Add the chicken pieces, skin sides down; cook, turning once, until golden, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer chicken pieces to a plate and remove pot from heat; let cool slightly.
  3. Return pot to medium-low heat, and add leeks. Cook, stirring frequently, until leeks begin to soften and are pale golden, about 3 minutes.
  4. Add hard cider and thyme. Move leeks to edges of pot, and add all the chicken pieces to pot, skin sides down. Arrange leeks over chicken. Cover, and cook 15 minutes (if liquid is bubbling rapidly, reduce heat to low). Turn chicken pieces, and cook until breasts are cooked through, about 5 minutes more.
  5. Transfer the chicken to the serving dishes leaving the juices behind. Remove leeks from pot, and arrange the leeks around the chicken.
  6. Return pot to medium heat. Cook, uncovered, until liquid has reduced by about half (to about 1/2 cup), 8 to 10 minutes. (When I came to this step, the liquid was already cooked down. So I skipped this step and actually had to add a few tablespoons of cider so that there was about ½ cup of liquid in the pan. If you need to add cider like I did, let it cook slightly to rid the alcohol.)
  7. Reduce heat to medium-low. Whisk in the crème fraîche and parsley. Ladle pan sauce over chicken and leeks. Serve immediately.
The final product with be one of the best chicken dishes you have ever eaten—super moist, delicious, and a unique combination of flavors.


  1. Before I made this dish, Carrie warned me that leeks are super dirty. I was a little confused looking at the leeks though because they look perfectly clean. However, Carrie was right—the dirt is all inside the leek within the layers. So be sure you get all the dirt out! I found it was best to first cut the leeks as directed above, separate the pieces’ layers, and then run the leeks’ pieces under water.
  2. As the original recipe notes, you can substitute hard cider with dry white wine, but I do strongly suggest using hard cider if possible. The flavor it gives is just too good! You can find hard cider at your grocery store in the beer section.

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Anonymous Fi, from the UK said...

This one sounds fab Kristin!! Fi

9:29 AM  

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