12 January 2013

Soy Braised Chicken with leeks - gentle sweet flavours

This lovely, gently flavoured dish was inspired by a photograph of a similar dish that I spotted in the BBC Good Food magazine this month.

As I recall, the original recipe had spring onions in it and as I don't do very well with spring onions - my tummy sometimes rejects them - and had a leek waiting for me to find it a job to do, it seemed a fairly obvious swap.

I'm still getting back into the swing of cooking following on from a nasty bout of the flu.  Hence, I didn't really want to get involved in a long cooking procedure - so this recipe turned out to be perfect.  If you do the entire process all in one go, you could probably be in the kitchen for some three hours or more - but I split it into various instalments.  Well, it gave me a chance to have a bit of "downtime" inbetween the action.

We had bought an organic chicken earlier in the week, to have at the weekend.  However, neither of us were in any fit state to be making roast chicken, so it had gone into the freezer.  So as to make the most of the price of the chicken, I decided to joint it and make a stock for soup with the carcass.  I reckoned that I could get at least three meals from the one chicken, that way.  In fact, we've had two main meals and two lunches - with a leg still left to be used!

Once we'd taken son & heir to school, I got on with jointing the chicken (which I'm getting a lot better at!).  It's not often that I get the opportunity to use organic chicken (although it would always be my first choice, if I could afford it) and this one was a beauty.  The knife went through the breast meat like a hot knife through butter, which bode well for the tenderness of the cooked chicken.  It wasn't a corn fed chicken, but the fat was a lovely deep yellow colour.  I was surprised at how bruised the breast meat appeared to be in places - but I figure that milling around outside with its pals, I guess a chicken is bound to get bumps and scrapes.

The two breast fillets, a drumstick and a thigh went into a cling film covered bowl with the marinade and into the fridge for later.

The remainder of the carcass went into the slow cooker with a couple of carrots, some celery, an onion and a garlic clove, plus some herbs and a good quantity of water and some seasoning.  There it stayed for the day, chuckling away and making some beautiful stock.  I eventually stripped the chicken of all the tiny little bits of meat and made a Jewish-style chicken soup with the stock, which I'll blog soon.
It was a late pickup from school that day, so I needed to put the casserole together before we left to collect son & heir.

The chicken smelled wonderful as I browned the pieces in the frying pan and my hopes for a great dinner rose a little bit further.

It really wasn't a difficult procedure to get the casserole together and I finished with 10 minutes to go.  We turned the oven on as we left to pick up son & heir.  Once we got home, it was an easy matter of cooking some rice and broccoli - and serving it all up.

I had debated thickening the sauce, but looking at it, it seemed to me as though it would entirely change the character of the dish to have the sauce thick.  It was supposed to be light and fluid - and there was broccoli and rice to soak it up with, so I took a chance and left it.  Hubby would have preferred it thicker - I was anticipating that - but I was very pleased with it.

I very much liked the gentle flavours provided by the soy, mirrin and honey - which added to the flavour of the leek and broad beans, made it a balanced dish.  Or so I thought, anyway.  Hubby doesn't like broad beans much and would have preferred the sweetness of peas, rather than that slight bitterness that an un-shucked broad bean brings.  Yes, perhaps I should have shucked the broad beans, but can I refer you back to the flu comment?  Just the thought of sitting there shucking broad beans was enough to almost send me back to bed.

Son & heir appeared to enjoy the flavours, although he did agree with his Dad about the bitterness from the broad beans.  I couldn't register said bitterness at all - all I could predominantly taste was the sweetness from the mirrin and honey, with the saltiness of the soy sauce!

So, I would advise caution when making this recipe.  If your family is very anti thin sauces or bitter flavours, perhaps you should consider thickening the sauce with a little cornflour and using peas instead of broad beans.  Alternatively, you could make something completely different!

I would be very happy to have this recipe again - although sadly I doubt I'll be making it in quite the same way.  Bye bye broad beans and hello cornflour!  *wink* 


Ingredients :

2 tbsp light soy sauce
3 tbsp mirrin
1 tbsp runny honey
a pinch of sea salt
2 boneless chicken breasts plus 1 thigh and 1 drumstick, skin on
1 tbsp rapeseed oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 leek, washed, halved lengthways and chopped
1 tsp grated ginger
100ml chicken stock
a good handful of frozen broad beans or peas.

Method :

1.  Put the soy sauce, mirrin, honey and sea salt into a bowl and stir to combine.

2.  Add the chicken pieces and stir to make sure they are all liberally covered with the marinade - then cover with cling film and leave for a minimum of half an hour.

3.  Heat the oil in a frying pan and brown the chicken pieces on a high heat.  Keep an eye on the chicken, as it will colour very quickly because of the sugars in the marinade.

4.  Once browned, place the chicken into a casserole dish.

5.  Add the onion to the frying pan and cook on a medium heat for 3-5 minutes, until softened.  Add the leek and ginger and stir to combine.

6.  Add the chicken stock and broad beans or peas.  Allow them to heat through and taste the sauce for seasoning.  If you think it is a little light on flavour or salt, add the remainder of the marinade and stir through.

7.  Decant the sauce and vegetables into the casserole dish, cover and put into a moderate oven (180degC/350degF/Gas 4) for 45 minutes to an hour.

8.  If, at the end of this time, you feel the sauce is either too liquid or not tasty enough, remove the chicken to a warmed bowl and cover with foil.  Either decant the sauce into a saucepan, or place the casserole dish (presuming it can cope with being on a direct heat) onto a gentle heat and reduce the sauce until it has reached a satisfactory consistency or the flavour has intensified sufficiently.

Serve with plain white rice and some steamed broccoli.

Printable version


  1. Such a detailed recipe love the way of neat explaination

  2. Oh thank God it’s Thursday-almost Friday too! This is a healthy meal worth trying!
    I really enjoyed reading your blog post. Your passion comes out in your writing. Keep at it! Why? Because every little bit helps and you never know who is watching/listening/learning from you! If you are feeling a bit worn out, come on over to my blog and let me encourage you!
    Ciao ciao for now~

    P.S. Did you check out TEEN WEEK yet?

    1. Thanks for the encouragement Cherelynn! :)

      For everyone else - treat Cherelynn's links with caution. I haven't visited them, nor do I intend to, just in case they spawn viruses. Apologies to Cherelynn, but that's the way they get passed around. :(


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