I've been wanting to share this absolutely delicious fall dish with you for a while, but I just couldn't seem to snap a good picture of it. This is the best of them and I'm still not entirely happy with the results but now that we are officially in the thick of apple season, I cannot in good conscience deprive you of the happiness of this dish just because of my lack of photography skills!!
I'm always a little bit sad to see summer go away, but the abundance of really good apples almost makes up for it and here, cooked down to caramelized perfection with leeks, a few spices and chicken, they are out of this world wonderful!! As is this entire very easy and totally weeknight-manageable dish!
If you've never cooked with leeks before (and believe me I totally get it--they're big, ungainly and sort of scary--looking at them, you're not really sure which parts are edible) now is the time to start, because along with the apples, they add a mellow oniony sweetness to this dish that can't be beat. There are only two rules that be followed: 1) You MUST cut away the long, tough green parts and 2) You MUST, MUST wash the cut-up leeks well because they are usually full of dirt and grit and you don't want that in your food, right? Other than that, you're free to cut them up as you like. I usually slice them lengthwise down the middle, turn them upside down and cut into half moons but there's really no rule.
The chicken gets tender with a wonderfully crispy skin and you will not be able to keep yourself from taking "just one more bite" of the apple/leek combination. One bite and I guarantee that this will become one of your autumn staples. Me? Hopefully I'll get a killer shot of this one day--in any case, it gives me a good excuse to keep making this all apple season long!!
Roast Chicken with Apples and Leeks
Makes 4 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes; Bake Time: About 1 1/2 hours
- 4-5 apples (I used a mix of Granny Smith, Golden Delicious and Honeycrisp)
- 2-3 large leeks
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, divided
- 2 1/2 pounds bone-in chicken breasts (you could also use thighs if you prefer)
1. Preheat oven to 400ºF. Cut the apples into quarters and then remove cores. Cut into thinner slices if apples are very large. Place into a large roasting pan. Remove tough green ends from leeks. Then, cut the remaining part down the middle, lengthwise, place cut side down and slice into half-moons. Place into colander and rinse well with water to remove any dirt or grit. Dry with paper towels as much as possible and then add to apples in the pan. Season with 2 tablespoons oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper aEnjoy!nd toss well.
2. If chicken pieces are very large, cut in half or thirds so they will cook faster. Season with remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and brush with remaining tablespoon of oil all over. Then nestle chicken pieces, skin-side up among the leeks and apples.
3. Roast for about 1 1/2 hours, until skin is crisped and browned and chicken is entirely cooked through and veggies are tender and caramelized. Serve immediately.
Note: Recipe adapted from Real Simple Best Recipes by Lygela Grace and Kate Merker. I omitted the fresh rosemary and increased the amount of apples and leeks. Feel free to experiment--some fresh garlic cloves roasted along with the apples and leeks would probably be nice too. Pears instead of apples might work well too.