Crispy Chicken Thighs with Savoury Puy Lentil Ragout
I have always loved the combination of earthy lentils and crispy chicken thighs. Puy lentils are small and slaty-green and are available in 250g (9oz) precooked packets and cans as well as dried. If you can’t find them I’ve used green or brown lentils with much success.
step one: Remove the bones from the chicken thighs and trim down the thigh meat. Place the bones and trimmings in a pan with half of the leeks, carrots and celery. Pour in 1.2 litres (2 pints) of water and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 1 hour until you have achieved a well-flavoured stock. Strain the stock through a fine sieve and place in a jug. You will need about 300ml (1/2 pint) in total so you can reduce it down further after straining if you need to.
step two: Heat a frying pan over a medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil to the pan and put the chicken thighs in, skin-side down. Reduce the heat to very low and cook for 20–25 minutes until the skin is nice and crispy. Don’t touch the chicken thighs while they are cooking or shake the pan, just leave them alone and you will produce the most fantastic crispy skin and succulent flesh.
step three: When you can see that the chicken thighs are nicely browned and the flesh is almost but not quite cooked through, turn them over and cook for another 5–6 minutes until completely cooked and tender. Remove from the heat and leave to rest in a warm place for 5 minutes.
step four: While the chicken thighs are cooking, if using dried lentils, rinse in a sieve under cold running water, then place in a pan with 600ml (1 pint) of water. Add a pinch of salt, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15–20 minutes or until al dente ( just tender but still with a little bite). Drain in a sieve and set aside.
step five: Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a pan and gently cook the rest of the leeks, carrots and celery for about 10 minutes until softened but not coloured. Stir in the cooked lentils and the stock. Season to taste and simmer for a few minutes until most of the stock has been absorbed and the vegetables are lovely and tender. Carve each chicken thigh into 2 or 3 slices. Spoon the savoury lentils onto warmed plates and arrange the slices of crispy chicken on top to serve.
- 8 chicken thighs with bones
- 2 leeks, trimmed and finely diced
- 2 carrots, finely diced
- 2 celery sticks, trimmed and finely diced
- 225g (8oz) dried Puy lentils
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper