A friend from my church has a very large garden; sharing its bounty is her joy. Last summer’s series on simplified kale receipts was inspired by her gracious contributions (for recipes, see Cooking with Kale and Cooking with Kale Made Extra Easy).
My mind creates recipes according to what is in my larder, which usually boasts of provision supplied by church members. Lately Goldie has been bringing her organic kale again, as well as leeks and celery; this mouth-watering chicken dish resulted.
For a wedding present last year, I gave a marriage supper, complete with a cooking class, to newlyweds in our congregation (see Thai Coconut Lime Flounder,) My desire was to release the gift of excellent nutrition in them. Several weeks ago, we celebrated their holy matrimony again, with a new set of instructions and dinner following, rejoicing over God’s goodness in our lives.
The first time I coached Dina, she exhibited such courage in overcoming her unfamiliarity with food preparation. Hope, however, grew this recent session, for she has grown exponentially in her eager steadfastness in the kitchen.
This teaching includes my chicken dish, using my recent acquisition of kale, shallots, and leeks. These steps are straightforward, though they are time-consuming, with the preparation of leeks and kale, but oh the benefits of health and taste!
Leeks are one of the world’s oldest vegetables, which are more delicate in flavor than either onions or shallots; they are considered highly nutritious, with cancer fighting attributes, as well as antiseptic, laxative, and diuretic properties, among many other health-promoting values. This vegetable is particularly strong in vitamins K and A (when eaten raw, one 3.5-ounce serving contains 52 % daily requirement of vitamin K and more than 29% that of vitamin A). Though research on this particular Allium is hitherto limited, it can well be assumed that its health benefits are comparable to those proven in its closely related onion and garlic cousins. Its notable amount of flavonol kaempferol, in its substantial polyphenol content, thereby combats many health problems related to oxidative stress and chronic low-level inflammation; among these are rheumatoid arthritis, obesity, and type 2 diabetes; thus, this recipe is beneficial to Dina, whose husband is presently overcoming diabetes. For an additional recipe and more on its history, go to Zucchini Chicken with Leeks and Shallots .
Enjoy making today’s clear, detailed chicken recipe for leeks, shallots, and kale; my next entry will expound on the colorful history of leeks, with a delectable soup.
Kale, Leeks, and Chicken Yields: 5-6 servings. Total prep time: 1 1/2 hr (lengthy, but well worth it with these simple, detailed directions).
1 1/2 lbs chicken tenderloins, about 8-10 lg pieces (Natural is best; available reasonably in Trader Joe’s freezer.)
2 lg carrots, optional
3 lg stalks of celery
1-1 1/2 lbs of kale
4 leeks, white and light green part, 3/4 lb trimmed (The best leeks are fresh-not more than a week old-and 1 1/2 “in diameter.)
5 lg cloves of garlic, minced (3 cubes of frozen garlic from Trader Joe’s is much easier.)
4 tbsp butter
8 tsp oil (Coconut or avocado oil is best, as olive oil is carcinogenic, when heated to high temperatures.)
1-2 tbsp fresh thyme, removed from stems, and coarsely chopped
Salt (Himalayan, pink, or Real Salt is critical for optimum health; a fine grind Himalayan salt is available at Costco for $4.99 for 5 lbs.)
Fresh ground pepper
- Place chicken in a large bowl of warm water to thaw, set aside.
- Spray all vegetables with an inexpensive effective spray, by combining 97% white distilled vinegar and 3% hydrogen peroxide; let sit 3 minutes. While waiting, if using fresh garlic, mince it now. Rinse sprayed vegetables in a sink full of water three times.
- Cut celery diagonally in 1″ pieces. Scrape optional carrots with a sharp knife (this preserves vitamins just under the skin); slice thinly at a diagonal. Set both aside together in a bowl.
- Prepare leeks by first discarding outer leaves; cut off the dark green at the top and root hairs on bottom, leaving the white and light green part. Cut each leek in half lengthwise; rinse well; then, cut each half in 2″ pieces, by placing leek cut-side up on board. Finally, slice these 2″ lengths, cut-side up on board,
into thin strips (see photo above). Place pieces in a large container. For final cleaning, rinse strips well with water, stirring with hand; then, drain in a colander. This is known as the chiffonade-cut.
- Melt butter over medium heat in a sauté pan; as soon as a small piece sizzles in pan, add half the leeks, coating strips well with the hot butter. Reduce heat to low; cook down in pan, to make room for the rest of leeks, distributing oils well with each addition. When all leeks are in pan, add garlic and slowly cook, covered, over low heat, stirring occasionally.
Cut ribs out of kale with a sharp knife (see above photo). May chop by hand, or quickly chop greens mechanically, by using the straight-edge blade of a food processor (see photo). Turn processor on and place kale pieces in feeder tube (see photo below); set aside.
- Place thawed chicken on paper towel, salt and pepper GENEROUSLY. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a large frying pan over medium heat; when a small piece of chicken sizzles in oil, add the rest of the tenderloins; cook until light pink inside (do not overcook, as these will cook more later); cut tenderloins in bite-size pieces, removing them to a large bowl. CAREFULLY SAVE JUICES IN PAN.
- Add 1 tbsp of oil to these juices; mix in half the kale, distributing oils evenly. Over medium heat, cook this vegetable down until there is room to add more; mix in oils with each addition, until all is in the pan; cook covered, until limp, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. As needed, deglaze pan (scrape fond, cooked-on juices, off bottom with a spatula, after adding 2 or more tbsp of water). Remove to bowl of meat when done.
Meanwhile gently peel thyme off stems, chop coarsely with a sharp knife, set aside.
- Put last 2 tsp of oil in hot pan after kale is removed; add carrots and celery; mix well; cook until tender, stirring every couple of minutes. Meantime go to next step.
- Blend 1-2 tbsp chopped thyme, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper into leeks; stir in chicken/kale; continue cooking over low heat, until all is hot. Add this mixture to pan of celery, when tender. Adjust seasonings. One final time, scrape bottom to deglaze pan, using the juices from the added leek mixture. Serve with confidence!