Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Olive Oil Poached Chicken with Orange, Leeks and an Olive Hollandaise

Ever since I discovered duck confit, at one of my first restaurant jobs, I have loved it. Rich, falling apart and full of flavour....this is a take on that dish, using the chicken legs I had bought.

I had an orange that had been cut for a snack and not eaten, some parsley and a leek, as well as a lot of olive oil and decided that this was my cue to try poaching in oil. I marinaded the chicken overnight with the oranges, garlic and fresh thyme before poaching it on a bed of leeks, along with the oranges and a whole lot of olive oil.

Despite all of the oil, the chicken was not greasy. Not much oil was absorbed (I measured it before and after), but the chicken was tender and moist, and full of flavour. I strained the oil, and plan on using it to cook with.

I did use some of it to make a hollandaise sauce to serve with the chicken. While not as rich as when made with  butter, the sauce had so much flavour, and adding in some chopped olives at the end gave another flavour boost, as well as some texture.

In a resealable plastic bag, combine the marinade ingredients:

1 orange, cut into 8
2 bayleaves
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper


4 skinless chicken legs (thigh and drumstick)

Seal the bag, removing as much air as possible. Refrigerate overnight.

To cook the chicken, place the following in the bottom of an ovenproof dish, large enough to fit the chicken snugly:

1 leek, thinly sliced
The oranges, garlic and herbs from the marinade

Place the chicken legs on top of the leeks and oranges, fitting them as snugly as possible into the dish.

Turn the oven on to 250F.

Add enough olive oil to completely cover the chicken.

I used about:

3 cups olive oil

Cover the dish tightly with foil, and place onto a baking sheet.

Bake the chicken for 3 - 3 1/2 hours, until the internal temperature reads at least 175F, and the meat can be pulled away from the bone easily.

Remove the chicken from the oil (be careful) and place it onto a rack to drain away any excess oil.

Strain the oil through cheesecloth to remove the oranges, and other flavouring items. Reserve the oil.
Heat the oven to 350F.

To finish off the chicken, place it into a clean baking dish, along with:

A handful of grape tomatoes

Place into the oven to bake until the chicken is heated through, golden on the outside and the tomato skins are starting to wrinkle and burst.

The hollandaise can be made while the chicken is baking, and kept warm, or made just before the chicken is ready to come out of the oven. To make the hollandaise, have a pot of simmering water ready, and a heat proof bowl (stainless steel or glass) ready.

Place the following into the bowl:

2 egg yolks
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Place the bowl over the simmering water, and whisk constantly until the egg is warm and starting to thicken slightly. If it gets too hot, remove the bowl from the heat to prevent scrambling the egg.

At this point, slowly add 1/3 - 1/2 cup of the reserved poaching oil, whisking constantly until the sauce is pale and thickened.

Set the bowl of sauce aside in a warm place, away from direct heat until needed.

Just before serving, stir the following into the hollandaise:

3 Kalamata olives, finely chopped
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Salt to taste

I served the chicken with Israeli couscous, steamed green beans, the roasted tomatoes and a generous portion of the hollandaise. The creamy sauce, little bits of olive and the hot, juicy tomatoes were a good combination, and the couscous soaked up all of the flavours. Definitely worth the amount of time this took to make!

  • Poaching in oil is a method that can be used for meat, fish or vegetables. While the item being cooked is submerged in oil, which heats up and cooks the food evenly, not a lot of oil is absorbed. The result is a moist, tender piece of meat, fish or vegetable.
  • The larger your baking dish, the more oil you will need. Make sure everything fits snugly and you will avoid using more oil than you need to.
  • If you are cooking vegetables, the oil can be saved and used for salad dressings or cooking. If you are cooking meat or fish, the oil can be used for cooking those same foods in the future.
  • Store the reserved oil in the fridge.
  • After straining the oil through cheesecloth, allow it to sit for a couple of hours. Any heavier fats or oils that have been released by the meat will sink to the bottom of the container. The olive oil can be poured off and stored for future use.
  • The chicken can be poached a day ahead, which I did, and then heated up in the oven with the tomatoes. If you do this, the roasting time will be longer than if you remove it from the hot oil and proceed with the recipe straight from there. That is why no roasting time is given.
  • The meat can be removed from the bones and used for other dishes, such as salads, pasta, sandwhiches. I have frozen the remaining chicken from this meal to use at a later date.
  • Use lemons instead of oranges; add grated zest to increase the flavour; use different herbs such as fresh rosemary or tarragon; add chili flakes; consider onions or shallots instead of leeks.

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