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poaching Scottish
Cock-a-Leekie

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Recipe

We made a version of this recently at St. John, and it was so surprising and good that even though it is an old classic I thought I should include this version. I hope that no one will take offense if it seems to break with hundreds of years of cock-a-leekie culture. This is more than a soup; in fact it would happily pass as a meal in itself.

Yield: To serve eight

Ingredients

Brisket:

  • 2 to 2¼ pounds brined beef brisket (brined for 10 to 12 days, or corned beef brisket from the butcher)
  • 2 onions, peeled and chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled
  • 2 leeks, cleaned and chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • A bundle of thyme and curly parsley tied together

Chicken:

  • 1 free-range chicken, or capon’ if available (slit the skin where the legs meet the body)
  • 2 onions, peeled
  • 2 leeks, cleaned
  • 2 stalks of celery
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • A bundle of thyme
  • A few sprigs of curly parsley
  • 2 sprigs of rosemary

Finishing:

  • 5 leeks, cleaned and sliced across
  • The smallest dash of duck fat or olive oil
  • 24 prunes with their pits (preferably Agen prunes from France, if you can find them)

Directions

Brisket

Place the brisket and its accompanying vegetables and herbs in a pan and cover with fresh water. Bring to a boil, then straightaway reduce to a very gentle simmer, skimming constantly. This should take about 2½ hours to cook, but always check with a knife how giving the meat is. Allow the beef to cool in the broth.

Chicken

Place the chicken in a pan with its team of vegetables and herbs, bring to a boil, then place a lid on the pan and remove from the heat. Allow to cool in the stock. This will make for a moist chicken, necessary as it is to be cooked again.

Remove the beef and chicken from their stocks and cut into pieces, not too small but just so it’s possible to eat them with a spoon. Strain both stocks, then add the beef stock to the chicken stock to taste. Remember, the beef stock will be quite salty, so be cautious—it may not take much. (A slight salt undertone is a good thing, though, as it plays very well with the sweet prunes we shall add at the end.)

Finishing

Now, in a pan large enough to construct your soup, sweat your sliced leeks in the duck fat or olive oil for about 8 minutes, so as to bring out their sweet leeky nature, but not to lose their crunch. Pour in the stock. Add the chopped chicken and beef, bring to a gentle simmer, and let the meat heat through thoroughly. Three minutes before serving add the prunes, just giving them time to puff up. Don’t pit the prunes.

Serve in big bowls with much bread at hand. Warn your guests about the pits.


© 2004 Fergus Henderson

Note from Cookstr's Editors

Nutritional information includes 1 teaspoon of olive oil, using a 2 lb beef brisket, a 3 1/2 chicken, but does not include the brine on the brisket.

 

Nutritional Information

Nutrients per serving (% daily value)

546kcal (27%)
67mg (7%)
9mg (15%)
170mcg RAE (6%)
936mg
78mg
47g
13g
3g
27g
161mg (54%)
191mg (8%)
8g (41%)
27g (42%)
5mg (26%)
 

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