Usually Mondays spark thoughts of misery and doom, but the sunny conditions along with the promise of a looming bank holiday weekend really have brightened up yet another manic Monday. Looking forward to the week ahead and have made myself a little meal plan of magnificent munchies for dinner each day this week. I'm starting today with a delicious dinner I whipped up last night with the limited food I had left in my fridge at the end of the week. The result was just lovely, and earned two thumbs up from Molly. This dish is a perfect quick and easy family dinner that doesn't take long to pull together and is packed with flavour. It's also a nice way of incorporating some greens into a one dish wonder.
Chicken and Broccoli Bake
2 tablespoons of rapeseed or olive oil
1 onion (diced)
4 cloves of garlic (crished or finely chopped)
2 large chicken breasts (diced)
40g parmesan cheese
40g mature red cheddar
200ml milk (low fat)
salt & pepper (to season)
4 slices of bread (made into breadcrumbs) (approximately 120g)
1. Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Add the chicken and sear all over. Season well with salt
2. Meanwhile quarter the broccoli and place in a pot of boiling water for 3 minutes until a bright
green colour. After 3 minutes remove the broccoli from the heat, drain in a colander and put
under the cold tap to cool for 10 seconds. This is called blanching. Set the broccoli aside.
3. When the chicken is seared on all sides, add the onion and garlic and cook until the onion is
softened. Place the chicken mixture into a large dish or roasting tin (approximately
27x22cm). Arrange the broccoli around the chicken in the dish, breaking the broccoli into
smaller pieces if desired.
4. For the cheese sauce, add the butter to a saucepan and melt over a gentle heat. Next stir in
the flour and beat using a whisk until a paste is formed. Add the milk a little at a time until a
thick creamy looking sauce is formed, beating continuously. Finally add the cheese and
continue to mix until the cheese is melted. Season well with salt and pepper. If you find the
sauce is a little thick, add a little more milk. Add some herbs to the cheese sauce such a
thyme or torn basil leaves if desired.
5. Pour the cheese mixture over the chicken and broccoli and top with the breadcrumbs. Place
in the oven at 180C for 20 minutes.
Blanching is a process in cooking whereby a food, vegetable in this case is boiled for a certain amount of time before being removed from the heat and being plunged or placed into or under cold water to halt the cooking process. In this recipe the broccoli is blanched to prevent it becoming mushy in the dish and allows the broccoli to maintain it's texture. Asparagus is often cooked in this way as it becomes soggy very quickly during cooking.