Leeks are best enjoyed through the winter months, with a season that typically runs from November to April.

With this in mind, March is the perfect time to squeeze a couple of leek based recipes before the season ends. Starting this delicious suggestion from Whiting & Hammonds Gastro magazine…

Chicken, bacon and leek with smoked mash and mushroom sauce
Serves 4

Preparation time: 35 minutes
Cooking time: 50 minutes

Ingredients:

For the mash
4 thin slices pancetta
3 large potatoes, King Edward or Désirée
50ml double cream
75ml milk
75g smoked butter
Smoked salt to finish

For the mushroom sauce
Drizzle of vegetable oil
15g butter
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
125g button mushrooms, wiped and sliced
100g wild mushrooms
150ml dry white wine
300ml double cream
1 tbsp freshly chopped parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the chicken, bacon and leek
1 tbsp vegetable oil
Seasoning
4 chicken breasts, skin on, bone off
16 baby leeks

Directions:
• Start by placing the pancetta on a piece of baking paper upon a flat tray, then cover with another piece of baking paper, and place another flat tray on top. Cook in a preheated oven at 180°C for 14 to 18 minutes, or until crisp. Set aside for later.

• For the mash, put the potatoes in a saucepan, cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer until tender. Meanwhile, heat the cream and milk in a saucepan on a medium heat, until the liquid has reduced by half, then stir in the smoked butter.

• Drain the potatoes, tip back into the pan, and return to the heat to remove any further moisture. Sieve or mash the potato until smooth, or put through a potato ricer if you have one. Add the warm smoked butter cream to the mash until you have a good consistency – you may not need to add all of the cream. Season to taste with the smoked salt.

• For the sauce, heat the oil and butter in a medium saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft, then add and cook the mushrooms, before adding the wine and reducing by half. Add the cream, parsley, pepper and a good pinch of salt and bring to the boil. Cook for five to eight minutes, or until reduced by half, stirring occasionally and watching that the cream doesn’t over-boil.

• For the chicken, bacon and leek, preheat the oven to 180°C. Gently heat a frying pan with the vegetable oil, then season the chicken breasts, before placing skin-side down in the pan and colouring until golden. Turn over and cook the other side for one minute, then place in the oven and cook for approximately 12 to 14 minutes, or until an internal temperature of 75°C has been reached.

• While the chicken is cooking, place the leeks in a pan of boiling water and cook for four to five minutes, or until tender. Then serve.