Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Chicken and Leeks with Cream Sauce: light summer fare

Leeks and spices infuse chicken cutlets and cream with a subtle blend of flavors, and shrimp add a little additional complexity to this flavorful dish. This is my reinterpretation of a recipe that was published in the LA Times in 1982. My mom pulled it out of an old file of newspaper clippings, scanned it, and emailed to me recently. I got a leek in my Full Circle Farm produce box this week, so decided to give her recipe a try. I'm glad I did -- it was delicious!


1 large leek
2 large shallots, chopped
4 tbsp butter, divided
1/4 tsp ground marjoram
1 bay leaf
2-3 sprigs fresh thyme (may sub 1/8 tsp ground thyme)
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into sections (may use tenders) 
salt and pepper
3/4 cup chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream
large handful cooked shrimp, tails removed


1.  Wash and cut the leek in half.  Julienne 1 cup of leek in small pieces approximately 1/8-1/4" wide and set aside.  Coarsely chop the rest.

2.  Using med-low heat, melt 2 tbsp butter in a large skillet or pot with a lid.  Add the coarsely chopped leeks and shallots.  Saute until softened, approximately 3 minutes, but do not brown.

3.  Add the marjoram, thyme, and bay leaf, stirring to incorporate.

4.  Add the chicken pieces, lightly sprinkling with salt and pepper.  Cook approx 2 minutes per side, then reduce the heat to low and cover.

5.  Allow the chicken to cook, covered, over low heat until cooked through but not tough, approx 10 minutes for medium sized pieces.  

6.  Remove chicken to a plate and cover.

7.  Add broth to the pot, raise heat to med-high, and boil until liquid is almost completely absorbed.  

8.  Add the heavy cream and reduce slightly on med-high heat until approximately 3/4 cup of liquid remains.

9.  In a separate saucepan, melt 2 tbsp of butter over med-low heat.  Add the julienned leeks and saute for 1-2 mins.

10.  Using a wire basket strainer, strain the cream from the large pot into the small saucepan.  (Discard the spices, shallots, and cooked leek left in the strainer.)  Stir to incorporate.

11.  Add the cooked shrimp to the cream sauce and heat for approximately one minute.  

Serve the chicken topped with cream sauce and shrimp.  Rice and raw veggies are a nice compliment to this light summery dish.  

On that note, I found it interesting that the original recipe was published on Dec. 2, 1982.  I wouldn't think to serve this meal in winter... but then again, winter days in Seattle don't look much like those in sunny Los Angeles.

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