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Posted on Sep 24, 2015 |

Rita’s Recipe: Chicken with Leeks and Cider

Rita’s Recipe: Chicken with Leeks and Cider

Leeks (far left) in Rita's garden.

Leeks (far left) in Rita’s garden. Now known for being the national symbol of Wales, the leek has history that dates back to Bible days.

About Leeks

As I’ve mentioned many times before, leeks are mentioned in the Book of Numbers and were an important vegetable (yes, they were eaten as vegetables and also used for seasoning) during Bible times.
This recipe was shared by a member of my recipe group and it is so good that her husband thought she should keep it a family secret recipe. As another member stated, “Lucky for us she didn’t!” I’ve adapted this only slightly


Chicken and Leeks Braised in Apple Cider


  • 8 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs
  • 3 leeks
  • 2 T butter
  • 1 T all-purpose flour
  • 2 C fresh apple cider (not juice!)
  • 6 sprigs of thyme, about 2” or so each
  • 2/3 cups heavy cream
  • Optional: 2 yellow or green apples; peeled, cored and quartered


Season the chicken liberally with salt and pepper on both sides.


Trim off the dark green part of the leeks and remove the tough outer leaves. Cut them crosswise into 1” long pieces. Place in bowl of water or sink and wash and drain.


Melt the butter over medium-high heat in a heavy, wide Dutch oven. Brown the chicken well on both sides, about five minutes per side. Do this in two batches if needed. Set the chicken aside. Drain most of the fat from the pan, leaving about 3-4 tablespoons.


Add the leeks to the pan and sauté for about five minutes until they are browned and beginning to soften. Scrape the brown bits up from the bottom of the pan as you stir the leeks around. Add the flour to the leeks and saute for another minute or two.


Add the cider and thyme sprigs to the pan and bring it to a boil, scraping up whatever is still sticking to the bottom of the pan. Return the chicken to the pan in a single layer, cover the pan, and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for 30 – 35 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.


Remove the chicken from the pan. Turn the heat to high and boil the pan juices until they are reduced by one-third. Add the cream and stir until it is incorporated. Boil another couple of minutes to meld the flavors.


Optional: Saute the apple quarters in a tablespoon of butter in a non-stick pan until browned and soft and serve with the chicken.


Rita Heikenfeld.

Rita Heikenfeld.

Rita Nader Heikenfeld writes a weekly syndicated column and blog for the Community Press, appears every Thursday on the Son Rise Morning Show, and is the author of several cookbooks. An adjunct professor at the University of Cincinnati, she is Certified Culinary Professional and Certified Modern Herbalist,  the Culinary Professional for Jungle Jim’s Eastgate, and a media personality with a cable show and YouTube videos. In 2014 she was inducted into the Escoffier Hall of Fame. She lives “in the sticks” outside Batavia, Ohio with her family, where they heat with wood, raise chickens for eggs, and grow their own produce and herbs. You’ll find all her previous recipes featured on The Catholic Beat here.

Rita’s Bible Foods segment airs on the Son Rise Morning Show every Thursday morning at 7:22 am (rebroadcast Friday at 6:02 am). Tune in to hear her discuss the history behind each recipe and the scripture verses that inspired it. And of course, for cooking tips!

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