Tag Archives: Leon

A Summery Chicken, Asparagus & Lemon Cassoulet

Family Dinners, Grown Up Dinners

I love cassoulet. It’s probably one of my favourite winter dinners, but boy is it filling. Way too heavy for this time of year anyway. So here’s a fabulous recipe for an altogether much lighter and healthier take on a cassoulet using chicken instead of duck and adding lovely in season asparagus to replace some of the beans.

I wish I could say I devised this recipe myself, but alas no it’s from my beloved Leon book by the inspirational Allegra McEvedy. Ever since I’ve had the book I’ve been excited about trying this particular recipe and have rather impatiently been waiting for the asparagus season to commence. And now we’re in it, I’ve made cassoulet three times already and always a success. Equally great for a family supper, a lunch or dinner party. Everyone seems to love it and it’s surprisingly quick and easy to assemble.

The original recipe calls for chicken supremes but I’ve successfully replaced with cheaper whole chicken legs but feel free to go with the original if you prefer breast meat. When I made the cassoulet for a dinner party I cut down on the asparagus (as 3 bundles was just a tad too expensive at E4.50 a pop!) and used half asparagus, half sliced courgettes and this worked marvellously.  I’d also say that you could omit the chicken altogether and replace the chicken stock with veggie to make a really interesting vegetarian dinner.

Try to start this dish the day before and leave the chicken to marinade in the fridge overnight, or at least for a whole day.

By the way that’s Dotty in the background. She’s the newest member of the Foti clan, a gorgeous little fluff ball of a Collie pup. And no she didn’t get to eat any!.

Enough for 4:

2 unwaxed lemons, zested and juiced

6 tablespoons of olive oil

8 cloves of garlic, finely sliced

6 sprigs of fresh thyme

4 bay leaves

black pepper & salt

4 whole free range chicken leg pieces, skin removed

2 bunches of asparagus, or 1 bunch and 1 large courgette

2 medium onions, diced

2 x 400g tins of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

a large glass of white wine

400ml of chicken stock

8 tablespoons of breadcrumbs plus a little extra olive oil for drizzling

4 lemon wedges to serve

Place the lemon zest and juice, two thirds of the olive oil, half the garlic, the thyme and bay leaves, a generous grinding of black pepper and a pinch of salt into a large bowl. Add the chicken and rub the marinade thoroughly in. Cover with cling film and leave to marinade for the day or ideally overnight.

The next day preheat your oven to 200ºC/Gas Mark 6.

Heat the remainder of the olive oil in a large frying pan on a medium heat. Remove the chicken from the marinade, set aside the marinade. Fry the chicken on all sides until a little golden. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Add the onion to the pan for a couple of minutes, stirring regularly. Now add the remainder of the garlic and the marinade and fry for a couple more minutes. Tip in the beans and the white wine. Give everything a good stir and leave to bubble away for a few minutes until the liquid has reduced by half.

Meanwhile prepare your asparagus. Remove and discard the woody ends and cut the stems into roughly one inch lengths ensuring the heads remain whole. Retain four whole asparagus stems for the top. If using a courgette slice in half lengthways then slice across in roughly 0.5cm slices.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the asparagus (and courgette if using). Have a taste check and season really well. Place the beans in an appropriately sized ovenproof dish then tuck the chicken legs in.

Pour over the chicken stock until you can just see the liquid level below the beans.

Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the top and place the four whole asparagus spears on the crumbs. Drizzle a little olive oil over everything.

Place in the preheated oven for 45 minutes to an hour. The crumbs should be golden and edges bubbling.

Great served with a light salad and lemon wedges on the side.

Here’s another couple of fabulous Leon recipes to try The Best Chilli Ever, and Chicken, Pumpkin & Borlotti Beans.

Advertisements

The Best Chilli con Carne ever!

This is a truly great recipe for chilli that I’ve adapted slightly from Allegra McEvedy’s Leon cookbook. Bursting with flavour and stuffed full of spices (and not just the normal chilli) it’s a real winter warming dinner.  Although it’s not particularly hot, if you don’t like much heat to your food tone down the chilli a little or omit altogether, which is something I often do so the kids can enjoy it with us too.

Using braising beef rather than mince also make this extra special; not only tastier and healthier, it’s great to know exactly what meat you’re eating!  I used pumpkin instead of carrots, which happily added a lovely sweet note to the chilli.

Please beware, this is not a quick chilli to make!.  It requires marinading the beef, preferably overnight, and a good few hours of cooking. So well worth it though!

Enough for 4-6 (depending on how greedy you want to be!)

1 heaped tsp dried chilli flakes

2½ tsp ground cumin

2 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp cinnamon

5 sprigs of thyme

5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

500g braising beef, cut into 2cm chunks

3 tbsp olive oil

1 heaped tsp cumin seeds

1 heaped tsp coriander seeds

½ red chilli, thinly sliced

2 large onions, diced

2 carrots or equivalent of squash or pumpkin, diced

1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes

2 x 400g tins of kidney beans

salt & pepper

Firstly you need to marinade your meat for at least a few hours, preferably overnight.  Into a large bowl put the dried chilli, ground cumin, oregano, cinnamon, thyme and a couple of the sliced garlic cloves.  Mix together and add the beef.  Using your hands rub the spices into the beef and leave to marinade in the fridge.

Heat the olive oil in a very large saucepan or casserole.  Add the cumin and coriander seeds and cook on a gentle heat until you can smell the spices. Add the marinaded beef and thyme to the pan turning every few minutes. Fry until the beef has browned on all sides.

Add a little salt to the pan, as well as the fresh chilli, remaining three sliced garlic cloves, onions and carrots (or squash or pumpkin).  Stirring often continue to cook for about 10 to 15 minutes.

Add the chopped tomatoes, cook for a further 10 minutes.  Now add the kidney beans. Pour in enough water to just cover and gently simmer for an hour with the lid on.

Take off the lid and simmer for up to another hour.  The chilli is ready when the beef is completely tender and sauce nicely thickened.  If the sauce becomes too dry add a little more water.

Once finished adjust the seasoning to taste.

Great served with rice and a big dollop of sour cream on top of the chilli. Divine.


%d bloggers like this: