The Power of Leeks

508099a808ca1.Carentan_LeekSpring is in the air, and last time we talked about the health benefits of white veggies. I made a chicken dish with leeks last night, and after the “oohs” and “ahs” and my husband even saying it was “the best chicken I’ve ever had,” I thought I would share the recipe and talk about the power of the LEEK.

Leeks are mild, delicate with a slight onion flavor; they are versatile, tasty, and easy to prepare. Leeks are an allium vegetable, a relative of onions and garlic, and shares many of their health properties.

(Read more about health benefits of onions and garlic HERE). Leeks contain allicin, a sulfur-containing compound known to fight bacteria and viruses. Leeks also contain substances known to help fight cancer, protect the lining of blood vessels, and decrease the risk of chronic inflammatory diseases. They also have a phenomenal amount of vitamins and minerals, especially vitamins A and K.

When cooking with leeks, make sure to clean them well. Becausechopped-leeks they are grown in the soil, they are almost always dirty. Trim the dark green parts and the root of the leek, then slice along the white and green part. Place the sliced leeks in a bowl with cold water. Agitate the leeks so the soil falls off of them. After a few minutes, the leeks will float and the soil will remain at the bottom of the bowl. Scoop the leeks with a slotted spoon and they’re ready to use! For a “How To” video go to How to Clean and Prepare Leeks.

To check out my recipe for potato-leek-asparagus soup , click Here. And remember next time you’re at the grocery store to grab some chicken and leeks and try this tasty recipe! Lemon is a bright partner for the caramelized leeks, which cook twice: They are sautéed, then roasted to meld with the honey and lemon.

Braised Chicken with Honey-Lemon Leeks

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(Adapted from Cooking Light)

Ingredients

  • 4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • 8 bone-in, skinless chicken thighs (about 2 pounds)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons grated lemon rind
  • 4 cups thinly sliced leeks (about 3 large, white part only)
  • 5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3 teaspoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or chives (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 400°.

2. Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add 2 teaspoons oil to pan; swirl to coat. Sprinkle chicken evenly with 3/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Massage lemon rind into chicken. Place chicken in pan; cook 4 minutes on each side or until browned. Remove chicken from pan; keep warm.

3. Add remaining 2 teaspoons oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add leeks and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt; cook 15 minutes or until leek begins to brown, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Remove pan from heat; stir in lemon juice and honey. Return chicken to pan. Mound leeks on top of chicken thighs. Bake chicken at 400° for 15 minutes or until a thermometer registers 165°. Top with fresh parsley or chives, if desired.

Did You Know? Leeks are the national emblem of Wales, and are even worn as a badge on Saint David’s Day. They are believed to help improve singing voices.

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