Might any of you feel a bit let down after last weekend’s and last night’s hype about romance? Though my husband and I shared a lovely meal last night to celebrate the romance of our twenty-five plus years of marriage, all good things must come to an end. So it was with our Valentine’s dinner.
Today, I sit at my computer with a peace and joy tinged with nostalgia as I remember Valentine’s Days from those twenty-five years. Some were spent abroad. Most were spent here amid our many gifts and blessings at home.
I remember a Valentine’s dinner I cooked for next-door neighbors, also the occasion I happened to learn that the husband was born on Valentine’s Day!
I remember Valentine’s suppers when our daughter was little, meals en famille, with heart-shaped cakes and our table’s centerpiece a “Valentine’s box” decked in red and white crepe paper. The box sported a slot at the top, in which family members inserted surprises for each other such as homemade cards or pieces of chocolate.
I remember Valentine’s Days spent at parties with friends.
Yes, Valentine’s Day is certainly romantic, but in my opinion, that romance should be for all kinds of people, not only for couples. To my way of thinking, Valentine’s Day is perfect for fellowship and friends.
And so I remember a special gift once given me by my dear friend, Francesca, visiting from Italy at the time. Her gift was a wonderful meal she cooked for my family–the recipe straight from her Tuscan kitchen in Viareggio. That meal’s main dish is now part of my family’s regular repertoire. To compensate for any après Valentine’s let down, I offer this today as my gift to you!
Francesca’s Delicious Lemon/Leek Chicken
Ingredients: about a pound of boneless chicken thighs, two (or three) large leeks, depending if you like lots of leeks with your chicken, juice of one lemon, olive oil, salt and pepper.
- Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces
- Slice the leeks fairly thin (wash thoroughly to avoid grit, and use only the white part of the leek and a little bit of the green)
- Put leeks in fry pan — pour 1/8 to 1/4 cup of olive oil over them, depending on how “oily” you like the dish
- Put chicken in the fry pan over the leeks
- Sprinkle salt and pepper on the chicken, to taste
- Sauté/stir fry at medium high heat (#7 on an electric range) for about 5 minutes, then add juice of one lemon and continue to cook.
- After about five minutes, add a little salt and continue to cook. Water will release into the pan.
- Continue to cook until the chicken is done. The leeks will be soft and tasty.
- Serve over rice.
- Note: you can add more lemon juice if you like this dish to be “lemony.” You can also use white (breast) meat instead of thighs, but be careful not to overcook since white meat can taste very dry.)
This dish is absolutely delicious. My recipe is somewhat imprecise since I obtained it by watching Francesca cook, but imprecision hardly matters–the dish is easy to make and tweak to your taste, wonderful to serve on a cold winter’s night. Depending upon what you serve with it, you can also make it a special meal for Spring. Many times, I have served it to guests. Everyone seems to love it.
So much for any post Valentine’s let downs. Just serve Francesca’s delicious lemon/leek chicken to your family or friends. Better yet, merely feast on it yourself! You’ll be glad you did.
Grazie, cara Francesca. Here’s a Valentine’s rose from my kitchen to yours!