These are two lovely recipes for feeding a family. First of all, the chicken and leek sourdough gratin is a really flavoursome dish.

Chicken thighs are great value and very versatile. The leeks, chicken and lemons work really well together. These are flavours I really enjoy.

You can use any beans that you like and they give great texture and flavour. Look out for Carol’s Irish-made stock – she makes natural stocks and bone broths which are perfect for using in recipes like this. I am not a huge mustard lover but it is delicious in this recipe. Velvet Cloud in Co Mayo do a great sheep’s cheese that you could use instead of parmesan, and you could also top it off with regular breadcrumbs.

Bacon chops are very versatile and good value for money. If they are dry cured then they are full of flavour. Look out for the Bord Bia quality mark. You could use also use pork chops instead in this recipe. I love the combination of rosemary, honey or an apple syrup, like the Highbank Orchard one in Kilkenny. It is like an Irish maple syrup, but made with apples. It is lovely in salad dressings and worth having in your cupboard. You get a lovely balance of sweet, sour and sticky. Use whatever root vegetables are in season and it makes a great one-tray dinner. This will be lovely with a big bowl of mash too.

Happy cooking,


Chicken and leek sourdough gratin

Serves four

Knob of butter

400g boneless, skinless chicken (thigh or breast), cut into 2.5cm pieces

2 small leeks, trimmed and sliced

2 garlic cloves, crushed

2 tsp of finely grated lemon rind

1 tsp fresh thyme leaves, plus a little extra

2 tbsp rapeseed oil

175g sourdough bread, torn into chunks

1 x 400g tin of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

100ml hot chicken stock

100g creme fraiche

1 tbsp Dijon mustard

50g freshly grated parmesan cheese

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

To serve:

Soft green leaf salad, or steamed vegetables

1 Preheat the oven to 200°c (400°F/gas mark 6).

2 Use the butter to grease the roasting tin and add the chicken, leeks, garlic, lemon rind and thyme. Drizzle over half of the oil and season generously, then toss with your hands until evenly combined.

3 Roast this mixture in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, until the leeks are softened and the chicken is just tender.

4 Meanwhile, tear the sourdough into small pieces and place in a bowl. Season and drizzle over the rest of the oil, tossing to coat.

5 Tip the cannellini beans into the roasting tin and pour in the hot stock, stirring gently with a spatula to combine, then fold in the creme fraiche and mustard.

6 Scatter over the bread and sprinkle the parmesan on top and another sprinkling of thyme. Bake for another 10 to 15 minutes, until crisp and golden brown.

7 Serve straight to the table with a separate bowl of salad or steamed veggies.

Bacon chops with glazed

root vegetables

Serves four

6 large carrots, cut into batons

3 parsnips, cut into batons

1 small turnip, cut into similar-sized wedges

1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary

3 tbsp rapeseed oil

4 dry-cured bacon chops or medallion

steaks (unsmoked)

3 tbsp apple syrup or honey

1 tbsp soy sauce

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

To garnish:

Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1 Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/gas mark 4).

2 Place the carrots, parsnips and turnip in a roasting tin. Sprinkle over the rosemary and drizzle with two tablespoons of the oil, then season generously and use your hands to toss everything together until well coated.

3 Roast in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, until the veg is tender and just beginning to caramelise.

4 Meanwhile, brush the bacon chops all over with the remaining oil and season them with pepper.

5 Mix the apple syrup or honey and the soy sauce in a small bowl.

6 Drizzle half of the apple syrup mixture over the root vegetables and then toss until everything is evenly coated. Place the bacon chops on top of all the vegetables.

7 Roast for another 20 to 25 minutes, until cooked through and tender, basting the chops after 10 minutes with the rest of the glaze.

7 Scatter over the parsley and then serve straight to the table for the family to enjoy.

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