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Pan-fried Chicken With Puy Lentils, Crispy Bacon & Wild Garlic Oil

Lynda Booth's Blog
Lynda Booth's Blog

‘Garlic steeped in milk over night and then stewed till soft and strained through muslin is a cure for lung trouble. The mixture to be taken three times a day.’*

*From the National Folklore Collection, University College Dublin. NFC S 36:246 from Co Laois.

Fortunately for us we have modern medicine to look after our ailments and much more fun and exciting recipe ideas for the abundance of wild garlic available to us at this time of the year.

If you have been wary of foraging, then wild garlic is the ideal starting point and will be around until the end of May. It is as widespread in the city as in the country and once you become aware of it, you will start to see it in many places. It is also easy to identify. Apart from its distinctive look, brush your hands through it and you will know from the pungent smell of garlic (or sometimes closer to onions) that you have the real thing. There are different varieties – the wide leafed one in the photo is the most common one but everywhere I roam I also seem to see the narrow leafed variety where the stalks are slightly thicker than chives. The flowers on both are also edible.

We have a brilliant, and simple Puy lentil dish that we love to use, which is a perfect match for the chive/garlic flavour you get from wild garlic leaves. We make a vibrantly flavoured and coloured oil from the wild garlic leaves to drizzle over this dish. The dish itself is very versatile in that it goes really well with chicken or a ‘meaty’ white fish, like cod. Or you could simply top the lentils with a soft poached egg, replace the wild garlic leaves with spinach and drizzle over some oily pesto.

Serves 4

For the chicken:
2 tbsp olive oil
4 chicken breasts, skin on
3 sprigs thyme
2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
25g butter

For the lentils:
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, very finely chopped
1 carrot, finely diced
1 celery stick, finely diced
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
250g Puy lentils, rinsed
1 bay leaf
3 sprigs thyme
600ml light chicken/vegetable stock, or water
200g smoked bacon lardons
3 tbsp flat leaf parsley, chopped
Salt & pepper

For the wild garlic oil:
75g garlic leaves
100ml olive oil

For the vinaigrette:
½ tbsp sherry vinegar
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1tsp Dijon mustard
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

For the lentils

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large saucepan and sweat the onions, carrot, celery and garlic until tender. Add the lentils, bay leaf and thyme and stir to mix. Pour in the stock, season and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until tender, around 25-30 minutes. Stir occasionally to ensure the lentils aren’t sticking to the bottom of the pan – the lentils should absorb all of the stock. To cook the lardons, heat a frying pan and add a tiny drop of oil. Add the bacon lardons and sauté until crispy, tossing regularly. Remove the lardons, drain on kitchen paper and reserve.

lentil1

For the vinaigrette

Place all the vinaigrette ingredients in a small bowl with a little salt and pepper and mix well.

To make the garlic oil

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Blanch the garlic leaves for 1-2 minutes and cool immediately in ice cold water. Drain and then pat dry with kitchen paper. Place in a food processor, slowly drizzle in the oil and continue to blitz until evenly mixed and the garlic leaf is sufficiently broken down.

To prepare the chicken

Preheat oven to 180C, 350F, Gas 4. Season the chicken breasts on both sides. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan and when hot, add the chicken, skin side down. Brown the chicken over a medium heat for 5-10 minutes (depending on the thickness) until the skin is golden brown all over. Add the sprigs of thyme and garlic during the cooking. When the skin is golden, add the butter to the pan, allow it to foam and spoon it over the chicken. Transfer the pan to the oven (or move the chicken to a baking tray if necessary). Cook in the oven for 6-8 minutes (depending on the thickness). Remove and leave to rest for about 5 minutes.

Picture4

To serve, reheat the lentils and mix in the vinaigrette, parsley and crispy lardons. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Divide the lentils between 4 plates, place the chicken on top, and drizzle the garlic oil over the chicken and lentils. Serve immediately.

DSC_8580 (1)

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