Annabel Langbein’s Chicken and Leek Gratin

February  4, 2016
3 Ratings
Photo by Alpha Smoot
  • Serves 6
Author Notes

It’s easy to get stuck in a rut cooking the same old things, but one of the easiest ways to get out of that rut is to revitalize old favorites. Here I’ve given a classic leek and chicken bake a fabulous update by marinating the chicken in cayenne, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce. It’s such a useful dish to make in advance and keep in the
fridge until you’re ready to pop it in the oven. Adapted slightly from Annabel Langbein The Free Range Cook: Simple Pleasures.
Candy Hutzell

What You'll Need
  • For the leek mixture:
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 4 leeks, thinly sliced
  • Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • 12 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon thyme leaves
  • 1/2 cup cream or chicken broth
  • For the crust:
  • 1/2 loaf day-old rustic bread
  • 4 cloves, garlic
  • 2 handfuls parsley leaves
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely chopped rosemary leaves
  • 3 anchovies
  • 2 ounces butter, softened but not melted
  • Zest from 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup coarsely grated Parmesan
  1. For the leek mixture:
  2. To make the gratin, heat butter in a heavy pan, add leeks, and season with salt and pepper. Cook over low heat, stirring now and then, until softened and no longer bright green, about 15 minutes.
  3. While the leeks are cooking, place chicken in a bowl with mustard, worcestershire sauce, cayenne, thyme, and salt and stir to combine. Allow to sit for 10 minutes while the leeks cook.
  4. Remove cooked leeks from heat and mix in cream or chicken broth. Spread evenly in the base of a large, shallow baking dish, then make the crust (recipe below).
  5. Arrange chicken thighs on top of the leek mixture, then cover with the crust. The gratin can be prepared in advance to this stage and chilled for several hours until needed.
  6. Make Crust (Recipe Below)
  7. When ready to cook, preheat oven to 350° F. Bake until chicken is fully cooked through and crumbs are golden (about 1 hour).
  1. For the crust:
  2. To make the crust, break bread into rough chunks, removing crusts if they are very hard, and pulse in a food processor until coarse crumbs form. Measure out 2 heaped cups and freeze any remaining crumbs for future use. Place garlic, parsley, rosemary, anchovies, butter, and lemon zest in a food processor and whizz to chop finely. Add breadcrumbs and parmesan and pulse to just combine. This crust will keep in a container in the fridge for up to a week or can be frozen.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Anne
  • LASGarcia
  • keg72
  • Robin Scholer
    Robin Scholer
  • Adrienne Lopata
    Adrienne Lopata

16 Reviews

Anne July 22, 2022
Love this dish. My only problem is that it is very runny, ie the 1/2 cup of cream doesn’t thicken. Does anyone else have this problem? I’ve made it many times now and the result is the same. I thought of sprinkling the cooked leeks with a tablespoon of flour before adding the cream to achieve a thicker sauce.
LASGarcia April 19, 2018
I made this using fresh sourdough bread crumbs- just have to lightly pulse in food processor- to not get too gummy. I did not use anchovies- but I think they would be good. I did add Jane's Krazy Mixed-Up Salt to the herb/butter mixture- only a tsp or so. Otherwise- I followed recipe. I thought it was very good- good for 6 people for dinner. We were only 3, so I portioned out the leftovers. Re-baked the next night, the leftovers- and it was even better. 30 minutes in oven at 350* and the crust was even crisper. Served with french green beans on side. This is a keeper recipe. Oh, and next time- I would trim any excess "fat" from the boneless skinless thighs.
keg72 October 18, 2016
I enjoyed this a lot. Just a couple of notes.... I used panko rather than fresh bread crumbs in the crust, and I thought the crust needed some salt. Also, a note to those who like to make things ahead of time, I assembled this 24 hours before cooking it and kept it in the fridge. Finally, I think that this general recipe -- chicken resting on a bed of softened vegetables with a flavored bread crumb topping -- would be easily adaptable to other flavor combinations. Thanks for a great recipe!
Candy H. May 24, 2016
Steps have been re-ordered to prevent confusion. Happy Cooking!
Robin S. May 24, 2016
This was one of the best things I've ever made, and I'm a fair cook. You can make it in stages and assemble and hold till the last minute. The crumbs will keep, the leeks can be cleaned and sliced early. I baked 6 thighs on the leek bed to eat now and have 6 marinated thighs in the freezer, a big batch of crumbs in the fridge, so I can buy leeks later this week and make it all over again. Love this recipe!
p.s. I use anchovy paste in any kind of chicken casserole-type recipe. It adds a yummy savory element.
Candy H. May 24, 2016
HI Robin. I am SO happy you love this recipe. Keep Cooking!
Claire May 22, 2016
I LOVE this recipe though I did take it from the book not from here. It only needed a little common sense to follow it. I made the crust first, marinated the chicken next then began the preparation of the leeks. Assemble with leeks first, marinated raw chicken next followed by the crust. I used boneless chicken and the hour cooking was perfect. I did put tin foil over the topping after about 20 minutes as the crust was browning too quickly. I also used stock not cream as I wanted it to be low fat. Absolutely yummy thanks Annabel Langbein. I will be making it again and again!!
Candy H. May 24, 2016
HI Claire. I am so happy you enjoyed Annabel's recipe and were able to adjust it to make it lower in fat. Happy Cooking!
Fanny April 26, 2016
Candy, please rewrite so we can follow better! Would love to try this recipe.
Adrienne L. April 6, 2016
This was a hit at dinner tonight, but the recipe took some deciphering and re-arranging so that it made sense and there wasn't any dead time. I started the marinade first and threw it in the fridge while I did the leeks and crust. Definitely use cream instead of stock, and I'll probably use more leeks next time. If you don't have time to make your own breadcrumbs, then use panko which worked well here. As far as cook time, I used skinless bone-in thighs and an hour in the oven was plenty, you'll probably have dried-out chicken if you use boneless thighs for an hour! Lots of flavor here, but this recipe deserves a re-write so that it is easier to follow.
Candy H. May 24, 2016
HI Adrienne. Thank you for your comments and suggestions. I have rewritten the recipe for future readers. Thanks for sticking with it and we are happy you enjoyed it.
Shawna April 4, 2016
This recipe doesn't make sense. Please update with instructions in the correct order.
genevieve April 3, 2016
2 and 3 are most definitely switched. Looks amazing!
Bonnie April 3, 2016
I would like to use this recipe but instructions are confusing -- maybe out of order?
BrianV April 1, 2016
also confused, must be out of order.
Catherine R. March 31, 2016
I'm confused...do you bake the chicken without the crust? I think steps 2 and 3 are switched. Otherwise, this looks amazing and I want to make this for my father-in-law for this birthday, he would love it!