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Valerie Rice

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Braised Chicken with Mushrooms and Leek
My favorite way to serve this chicken is over a bed of wild rice and a handful of Mache or arugula: the rice soaks up the flavorful juices and the greens add the perfect freshness.
This recipe can be halved, but the leftovers won’t go to waste.
Serves 4

1 cup morels, dried (1/2 ounce)
4 chicken legs with thighs attached
Kosher salt and cracked pepper
2 cups Shitake mushrooms (4 ounces), stems removed and cap julienned
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
4 Tablespoons butter, divided
2 leeks, white part only washed and sliced in half moons
2 garlic cloves, sliced
2/3 cup sherry or white wine
1/2 cup crème fraiche
1 cup reserved mushroom broth (made from the morels)
salt and pepper
garnish with fresh tarragon or parsley

Pre-heat oven to 325. Rinse the morels gently under the faucet with warm water to displace any visible dirt or sand.  Then reconstitute the morels by covering completely with boiling hot water, around 1-1.5 cups.  Set to the side until they are soft and pliable.  When the morels are soft, remove from broth and slice in half. Pour the broth into a separate bowl watching for any sand or grit. You can pour over a cheesecloth or just look with a careful eye. Reserve both the morels and broth. Sprinkle the chicken pieces liberally with salt, pepper, coating the chicken evenly.  Add 2 Tablespoons of the oil and 2 Tablespoons butter to a large Dutch oven. Sear the chicken on medium high heat about five minutes a side.  Be careful not to burn the chicken.  When chicken is golden brown on both sides place on a large plate. Now, pour off the oil from the pan and add 2 more tablespoons of both the butter and the olive oil to the Dutch oven. Add the sliced Shitakes to the pan and cook on medium until juice is released.  Next add salt, pepper, leeks and garlic and cook on medium until the leeks are translucent, about 15 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the sherry and stir-up the brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Next, whisk in the morel broth and crème fraiche. Stir to incorporate all of the flavors. Taste for seasoning. Add the morels and give it a good stir. Taste for seasoning, then add in the chicken and any juice that has accumulated on the platter.  Nestle the chicken into the sauce and ladle the juices and mushrooms over the chicken so that each piece of meat is covered.  Cover the pot and place in 325 oven for 35 minutes. When done, the chicken should be super tender. After the chicken is cooked completely, just keep the covered pot in the oven (turned off) until you’re ready to eat.  Serve in shallow bowls layering over a bed of wild rice, a handful of Mache or arugula, ladling the sauce over the chicken. Garnish with fresh tarragon leaves or fresh parsley.