Parmesan polenta baked chicken with sweet & sour leeks & red rice recipe image

Print Parmesan polenta baked chicken with sweet & sour leeks & red rice

A poaching liquor based on the Italian ‘agrodolce’ (translating as ‘sour-sweet’) way of cooking vegetables lifts your leeks to a new level. This method of cooking works equally well with cauliflower, romanesco, or carrots. We’ve added some nutty flavoured red rice to bulk up the meal and as a foil to the polenta and Parmesan crusted chicken breast.

Ingredients

  • 150g red rice
  • 2 leeks
  • 15g parsley
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 1 egg
  • 25g plain flour
  • 50g polenta
  • 25g Parmesan, grated
  • 1 tbsp thyme leaves
  • Oil for frying, e.g. sunflower or light olive
  • Olive oil
  • 1 tsp light brown sugar
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp dried dill tops
  • Salt & pepper

Method

  1. Put a pan of water on to boil. Preheat oven on to 200˚C/Gas Mark 5. Rinse the rice in a sieve under cold water. Prepare the leeks: trim the top and bottom, cut them in half lengthways then across into thin shreds. Put them in a bowl of cold water and leave to soak for 2 minutes, then swirl them round to remove any excess mud and grit.
  2. Lift them into a colander, giving them an extra rinse if needs be, then drain. Wash the bag of parsley, shake dry. Peel and finely chop, grate or crush one garlic clove. Peel off and discard the chicken skin. Put the chicken breasts between 2 sheets of cling film. Use a rolling pin or meat mallet to bash the thicker part of the breasts down a little so they’re roughly the same thickness all the way through, about 2cm. Add the rice to the pan of boiling water. It will take 30 minutes to become tender (but still with a nutty bite).
  3. Once the rice goes in, prepare 3 shallow dishes. Beat the egg in one. Put the flour in another and the polenta and Parmesan in the third. Pick enough thyme leaves off their stalks so you have 1 tablespoons worth. Add the thyme leaves to the polenta and cheese, along with a little pepper. Mix together. Coat the chicken breasts first in the flour, then the egg, then the polenta mixture.
  4. Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a frying pan (ideally one that can go in the oven, or use the frying pan then transfer to a baking tray). Add the chicken breasts and fry them for a few minutes on each side, until lightly golden. Transfer to the oven for 20 minutes. Once the chicken goes in the oven, put the leeks in a good-sized saucepan. Add 3 tablespoons of olive oil, the garlic, sugar, 150ml water, the juice from quarter of the lemon, and a little salt and pepper to season. Bring the pan up to a low simmering boil and cook, stirring regularly, for 15 minutes, so the leeks are soft.
  5. Add a splash more water if needs be (and check your heat if you do need to add more liquid, it may be a little high). Meanwhile, chop the parsley. Once the leeks are cooked, stir in the parsley and dill tops. Drain the rice once cooked and stir into the leeks when they’re done. Serve with the chicken.

Cooks notes

If you don’t have a particularly large appetite, save some of the cooked rice in the fridge for a lunchbox salad the next day.
want to cook with fresh ingredients? try one of our award winning veg boxes