chicken, leek and fennel gnocchi for two

As Dara Ó Briain said on a recent episode of UK Taskmaster, in a very pleasing Irish accent, ‘Wait what? What wait? Wait what?’

Yep, it’s me again, I must be on a roll.

I am happy as a pig in mud today. For the last two weeks it has been a non-stop work extravaganza, although some of that work might not seem very cumbersome given it did include a spectacular 5-day shoot in Russel staying at the Lindis in Paroa Bay, then Eagle’s Nest for two nights. Magnificent as it was, (and I mean, it was bloody, luxuriously, amazing), I was still ‘on duty’ running around shooting like a crazy woman. (And by shooting, I mean photographing – crazy frantic, not unhinged!) Admittedly, the wonderful fella I’ve been dating for the last year, who shall henceforth be known as Pappa Delle (long story), or maybe PD for short, joined me at Eagle’s Nest for general fun times and shennanigans, which did make the work bit markedly easier. But today has also been glorious…puddling around my house, watering pot plants, picking the odd leaf off the lawn and planning what to put in my newly delivered 1930s zinc planter. I really needed the quiet time, and even felt inspired to get busy in the kitchen. Darling Pog and his lovely boyfriend are entertaining at their apartment tonight, but tomorrow I will be delivering the gnocchi above, so they can have a night off cooking, and just chill with their adorable pup, Billy. She is the most outrageous cross between a Staffordshire Bull Terrier and Bichon/Maltese Terrier. We are all completely smitten with her beautiful nature and permanent smile.

Any old hoo, Hoob is coming for dinner tonight for chess, sushi and dumplings and the aforementioned Taskmaster so I had better get back to and keep practicing…he is waaaay better than me, but I am slowly improving. At least the games last a lot longer than they did in the beginning. He is a very patient teacher.

A final word on the gnocchi. It is bloody delicious, incredibly easy to make and just the ticket for when the weather forecast is, yet again, for rain.

1/2 cooked store-bought, free range chicken, shredded into chunks
3 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 fennel bulb, cored and sliced (reserve fronds)
1 leek, trimmed and sliced
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, crushed
finely grated zest of one lemon
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
2 tbsp white wine
2/3 cup cream
1/3 cup grated parmesan
500g gnocchi
1 small ciabatta roll

Preheat the oven to 180˚ fanbake.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the butter and the oil together in a large heavy-bottomed pot. Add the onion, fennel and leek.  Season well with salt and pepper, and add the garlic, lemon zest and chilli flakes. Cover and cook over a medium/gentle heat for 10 minutes until softened but not coloured. Add the wine and cream and simmer, covered for 10 minutes. Remove the cover, add two tablespoons of the chopped reserved dill fronds and simmer for another 5 minutes until the sauce is slightly reduced. In a separate pot cook the gnocchi according to packet instructions. Drain well and add to the mixture with the chicken and 1/4 cup of the parmesan. Spoon into an ovenproof dish.

Tear up the ciabatta roll and bung it in a mini food processor with remaining 1 tablespoon of butter and left-over parmesan. Whiz to form breadcrumbs, then sprinkle liberally over the gnocchi. Pop in the oven for 10-15 minutes until golden and bubbling.

Serves 2.




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