Blanquette with pâté croutes

    45 min

    The classic blanquette is a stew of poultry, veal or pork in a rich white sauce. In this contemporary version tender vegetables and chestnuts in a creamy sauce are partnered by savoury chicken liver croutes.

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    Serves: 4 

    • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    • 2 leeks, white parts only, thickly sliced
    • 12 button onions or pickling onions, peeled
    • 2 bay leaves
    • 2 tbsp plain flour
    • 450 ml (15 fl oz) chicken stock, preferably home-made
    • 150 ml (5 fl oz) dry white wine
    • 450 g (1 lb) new potatoes
    • 450 g (1 lb) small button mushrooms
    • 1 can peeled chestnuts, about 240 g, drained
    • 1 egg yolk
    • 2 tbsp single cream
    • pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
    • salt and pepper
    • fresh tarragon to garnish
    • Pâté croutes
    • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 short French loaf, cut into 12 slices
    • 1 shallot, finely chopped
    • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
    • 2 lean back bacon rashers, rinded and finely chopped
    • 200 g (7 oz) chicken livers, coarsely chopped
    • 2 tsp chopped fresh tarragon
    • 4 tbsp chopped parsley
    • grated zest of ½ lemon
    • 1 tsp tomato purée
    • ½ tsp ground mace
    • 2 tomatoes, skinned, seeded and diced

    Prep:20min  ›  Cook:25min  ›  Ready in:45min 

    1. For the blanquette, heat the oil in a flameproof casserole. Add the leeks, onions and bay leaves, stir well and cover. Cook over a gentle heat for 5 minutes or until the leeks are softened slightly and the bay leaves are aromatic.
    2. Sprinkle the flour over the leek mixture, then gradually stir in the stock and wine. Halve any large potatoes and add with the mushrooms and chestnuts. Bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer gently for 15–20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
    3. Meanwhile, make the chicken liver croutes. Using 1 tbsp of the oil, brush the slices of French bread lightly on both sides. Heat a non-stick frying pan and brown the bread lightly on both sides. (You may have to do this in batches.) Transfer the slices to a baking tray or flameproof dish. Preheat the grill on a low setting.
    4. Heat the remaining oil in the pan. Add the shallot and garlic and cook for 2–3 minutes or until softened. Add the bacon and chicken livers and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in the tarragon, parsley, lemon zest, tomato purée, mace, diced tomatoes and seasoning to taste. Spoon the mixture and any cooking juices onto the bread, pressing it down gently. Turn the grill off and place the croutes in the grill compartment to keep hot.
    5. In a small bowl, beat the egg yolk with the cream until thoroughly combined. Stir in 2–3 spoonfuls of the hot cooking liquid from the blanquette, then add the mixture to the pan. Heat gently, stirring, for 30 seconds. Do not allow the sauce to boil or it will curdle. Add the nutmeg, season to taste and remove from the heat.
    6. Discard the bay leaves. Ladle the blanquette onto plates or into shallow bowls, garnish with tarragon and serve hot, with the croutes.

    Some more ideas

    Cooked chicken or turkey can be added to the blanquette at the end of step 2 – an ideal way to use up leftovers from a roast. * Sliced fennel and celery are also delicious in the blanquette: add with the leeks and onions. Drained canned artichoke bottoms or hearts can be added for the final 5 minutes of simmering. * For a vegetarian version, use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock. Top the croutes with a mixture of 55 g (2 oz) crumbled blue cheese, 3 tbsp snipped fresh chives and 4 skinned, seeded and diced tomatoes. Toast under a preheated warm (not too hot) grill for about 2–3 minutes or until the cheese begins to melt. * Instead of pâté, sprinkle chopped fresh oregano or marjoram and crumbled feta cheese on the croutes.

    Plus points

    Chicken livers are an excellent source of iron. A third of British women under the age of 50 have been shown to have low iron stores, which can lead to tiredness and increased susceptibility to infections. * Chestnuts are rich in complex carbohydrate and low in fat. They also provide useful amounts of vitamins E and B6.

    Each serving provides

    B2, B6, B12, C, folate, copper, iron * B1, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, zinc * calcium, selenium

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