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 revitalise old favourites. Here I’ve given a classic chicken and leek bake a fabulous update.

Annabel Langbein shares a recipe for chicken and leek gratin from her new TV series and book The Free Range Cook: Simple Pleasures


Serves 6

3 tbsp butter

4 leeks, thinly sliced

Salt and ground black pepper

12 boneless, skinless chicken thighs

2 tsp dijon mustard

2 tbsp worcestershire sauce ½ tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp thyme leaves

½ tsp salt

½ cup cream or chicken stock

For the Provençal crust

½ loaf day-old rustic bread

4 cloves garlic

2 handfuls parsley leaves

1 tsp coarsely chopped rosemary leaves

3 anchovies 60g butter, softened but not melted

Finely grated zest of 1 lemon

½ cup coarsely grated parmesan


To make Provencal 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 two 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.

Provençal crust will keep in a container in the fridge for up to a week or can be frozen.

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).

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.

Remove cooked leeks from heat and mix in cream or chicken stock. Spread evenly in the base of a large, shallow baking dish.

Arrange chicken thighs on top then cover with Provençal crust.

The gratin can be prepared in advance to this stage and chilled for several hours until needed.

When ready to cook, preheat oven to 180°C. Bake until chicken is fully cooked through and crumbs are golden (about one hour).

Annabel will be appearing at Regional Flavours, South Bank, Saturday 19 and Sunday 20 July. Visit:

Prep time: 20min Cook time: 75min