Chicken and Brocolli Gratin

How is it mid-November already? This year is flying, though I say that every year – is that what happens the older you get?

I have just spent the weekend in France – and why not? It’s only 2 hours down the road, we stayed in a very nice, small Chateau (well on the grounds of one anyway!), ate a 6 course meal, went champagne tasting and came back to Brussels with plenty of bottles clinking in the back of the car.

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Our fancy meal was fancy, there was St Jacques (I’m not a big fan unfortunately), fois gras – the cooked version, pidgeon, frogs legs – you name it.  Probably not my favourite but you only live once!  I only took a photo of the pidgeon and frogs leg, and the dessert – which was very tasty 🙂

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The following day, the sun came out and we found the Route de Touristique Champagne – it was beautiful:

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Apart from that, the day consisted of jambon-fromage croissants, croque-monsieurs and champagne tasting, after which we weren’t able for another big meal so instead got some (more) cheese, charcuterie, baguettes etc and enjoyed that with … some more champagne 🙂

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The weekend consisted of alot of cheese and bread in various forms so I thought it was time to eat some veg in preparation for the week ahead….

This is an oldie but a goodie.  I think the first time I enjoyed broccoli was in this particular dish, it’s very tasty and a great way of getting your greens in.

It can be made various different ways – using a whole chicken, or just chicken breasts – having tried both I think the whole chicken option is better, there is more flavour.

It can be made cheats-style by using tinned soup for the sauce – mushroom or chicken are best, and the condensed version I think also works best.  This has alot of flavour but be sure to use good quality tinned soup as the cheaper ones can be very salty.

I went back to basics yesterday and made a sauce from scratch – I went by the Avoca recipe but also added some curry as this always gives an extra nice flavour!

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Ingredients

  • 1 whole chicken (or 6 chicken breasts)
  • 1 Spanish Onion or 2 normal onions peeled and chopped
  • 2 carrots peeled and chopped
  • 2 celery sticks chopped
  • a few sprigs parsley and thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon of black peppercorns
  • 300ml double cream
  • 120g Roux (60g flour 60g butter)
  • 1 teaspoon of curry powder
  • 1 head of broccoli divided into florets
  • 25g butter
  • 75g cheese grated (cheddar or another strong cheese)
  • 150g breadcrumbs

Method

  1. Place chicken in a large saucepan with the onions, carrots, celery, herbs, peppercorns and enough water to cover.  Bring slowly to the boil then reduce heat and simmer until the chicken is cooked ( about an  hour for a whole chicken, 20 minutes for chicken breasts)
  2. Remove the chicken from the pan and leave to cool.  Strip the meat from the bones, tear up into large bite size pieces and set aside.
  3. Strain the cooking liquid into a saucepan and boil until reduced to 600ml. (I actually left the veg in, and put the chicken bones back in whilst doing this – I didn’t boil all the way down to 600ml as I had alot but I let it boil for about another 20-30mins.  Next time I might add a 1/2 a stock cube at this point for extra flavour).
  4. Add the cream, (at this point I also added a heaped tsp of curry powder) return to the boil then whisk in the roux a little at a time to form a thick sauce.
  5. Blanch the broccoli in boiling water until just tender, then drain and refresh under cold water.
  6. Stir the chicken and broccoli into the sauce and season to taste.
  7. Pour this into an oven proof dish.
  8. Melt the butter and mix with the breadcrumbs and cheese.  Spread over the chicken dish.
  9. Bake in a preheated oven at 180degrees C for 20 minutes or until brown and bubbling.

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