“Take time out from your busy schedule to savour life’s simple
pleasures – the sweetness of a fresh-picked berry, the crunch of a carrot
straight from the earth, and the joy to be found in cooking with love for family
Annabel Langbein is one of New Zealand’s best-loved food writers and the
star of her own international television series Annabel Langbein The Free
In her new book Simple Pleasures, Annabel stays true to her philosophy that
quality natural ingredients need little in the way of fussy preparation, cooking
up an exciting new batch of her trademark fast, fresh recipes at her rustic
cabin on the shores of Lake Wanaka.
Chicken and Leek Gratin (pictured left)
It’s easy to get stuck in a rut cooking the same old things, but one of
the easiest ways to get out of that rut is to revitalise old favourites. Here
I’ve given a classic leek and chicken bake a fabulous update by marinating the
chicken in cayenne, mustard and worcestershire sauce. It’s such a useful dish
to make in advance and keep in the fridge until you’re ready to pop it in
Prep time 20 mins
Cook time 1¼ hours
3 tbsp butter
4 leeks, thinly sliced
salt and ground black pepper
12 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 tsp dijon mustard
2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
½ tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp thyme leaves
½ tsp salt
½ cup cream or chicken stock
1 recipe Provençal Crust (see below)
Heat butter in a heavy pan, add leeks and season with salt and pepper. Cook
over low heat, stirring now and then, until softened and no longer bright green
(about 15 minutes).
While the leeks are cooking, place chicken in a bowl with mustard,
worcestershire sauce, cayenne, thyme and salt and stir to combine. Allow to sit
for 10 minutes while the leeks cook.
Remove cooked leeks from heat and mix in cream or chicken stock. Spread
evenly in the base of a large, shallow baking dish. Arrange chicken thighs on
top then cover with Provençal Crust. The gratin can be prepared in advance to
this stage and chilled for several hours until needed.
When ready to cook, preheat oven to 180°C. Bake until chicken is fully
cooked through and crumbs are golden (about 1 hour).
I often double this recipe so I can keep some in the freezer. It makes a great
topping for a gratin, cauliflower cheese or braised vegetables and can also be
used as a crust for lamb or a topping for baked mushrooms.
Prep time 10 mins
Makes 2½ cups
½ loaf day-old rustic bread
4 cloves garlic
2 handfuls parsley leaves
1 tsp coarsely chopped rosemary leaves
60g butter, softened but not melted
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
½ cup coarsely grated parmesan
Break bread into rough chunks, removing crusts if they are
very hard, and pulse in a food processor until coarse crumbs form. Measure out
2 heaped cups and freeze any remaining crumbs for future use.
Place garlic, parsley, rosemary, anchovies, butter and lemon zest in a food
processor and whizz to chop finely. Add breadcrumbs and parmesan and pulse to
just combine. Provençal Crust will keep in a container in the fridge for up to
a week or can be frozen.
Annabel has self-published 19 cookbooks including Annabel Langbein The Free
Range Cook and Annabel Langbein Free Range In the City. She has won numerous
international awards including a Gourmand World Cookbook Award for ‘Best TV
Cookbook’ for Annabel Langbein The Free Range Cook. Her books have been
translated into multiple languages and have sold close to two million copies
throughout Europe, North America and Australasia.