Jambonette of chicken with celery

Serves 4

I hadn't made this dish for years; it's called a jambonette as it resembles a mini ham. It's a great economical and smart way to make a cheap chicken leg go a long way. You can bone it yourself or get your butcher to do it, but the crucial thing here is to leave the chicken as intact as possible.

4 large chicken legs
A couple of good knobs of butter
4-5 sticks of celery, peeled if stringy
40-50g fresh white breadcrumbs
A little vegetable or corn oil for frying
1tsp flour
120ml cider
350ml chicken stock
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
A small handful of celery leaves
2tbsp double cream

With the point of a sharp knife cut the flesh away either side of the thigh bone and up to about 2cm past the joint, leaving the skin and flesh as intact as possible, then chop the bone through with a heavy chopping knife and put to one side. Chop the bone still attached just slightly below the knuckle to reveal it. Chop the knuckle and bones into small pieces and put to one side.

Chop two of the celery sticks into a fine dice, melt the butter in a saucepan and gently cook the diced celery for 3-4 minutes with a lid on, adding a tablespoon of water after a couple of minutes.

Mix the celery with the breadcrumbs and season to taste. Push the stuffing into the boned legs as far up the drumstick as you can and leaving a tablespoon of stuffing on the thigh part. Fold over the thigh meat, encasing the stuffing and secure with a couple of cocktail sticks so the stuffing doesn't fall out.

Wrap each leg tightly in clingfilm so you end up with a kind of mini ham shape. Place the legs in a saucepan, cover with water, bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes, then remove from the heat and leave to cool.

Chop two of the sticks of celery into 5cm x ½cm batons and put to one side and put any root trimmings with the chopped bones.

Roughly chop another stick of celery, heat a little vegetable oil in a pan and fry the chopped bones, celery and trimmings for a couple of minutes until lightly coloured. Dust with flour then gradually add the cider and chicken stock, bring to the boil and simmer gently for 30 minutes.

Then strain through a fine-meshed sieve into another saucepan and simmer until you have about 4-5 tablespoons left. Then add the double cream and continue simmering until the sauce has reduced and thickened, cover with a lid and remove from the heat.

Preheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6. Remove the clingfilm from the chicken legs and place in a small roasting pan, season and spoon over a little oil and roast for about 30 minutes or until golden.

Meanwhile, bring a small pan of water to the boil with a little salt and blanch the celery batons for a minute, adding the leaves after about 50 seconds, then drain. Toss them in a little butter, season and keep warm.

To serve, reheat the sauce, remove the chicken from the roasting tray, drain on kitchen paper. Place the batons and leaves on warmed serving plates, add the chicken and spoon a little sauce over.

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