I wanted an elegant meal for friends that needed minimal attention after they arrive so decided to try the Chicken and broccoli gratin from the Avoca Cafe Cookbook: Bk. 1. This recipe involved a few more steps than is ideal for a weekday evening meal but it was a pleasant way to spend a Sat afternoon to make the evening meal and was very nice. I think it would probably freeze well. I’d add another carrot next time and a mix of peppercorns and I did add a tsp veg bouillion this time but otherwise I wouldn’t make any other changes.
I went to update this post to say it was so nice I’ve made this recipe a few more times since and realised I hadn’t typed up the recipe so here it is. This quantity makes enough for 8. It also makes up very well the day before, I boxed up the breadcrumbs and cheese mix to put on just before popping in the oven. I’ve adjusted quantities a little to suit me and I leave the onions and carrots in. I’ve tried this using both a whole chicken and chicken breasts, the whole chicken option is definitely superior.
- 1 whole chicken about 1.5kg in weight or 6 chicken breasts
- 2 onions peeled and chopped
- 3-4 carrots peeled and chopped
- 2 celery sticks chopped
- a few sprigs parsley or tsp dried parsley/mixed herbs
- 1 bay leaf
- a tbsp peppercorns (black or mixed) slightly crushed
- 300ml double cream
- 100g roux (see below)
- 2 medium heads of broccoli divided into florets
- 25g butter
- 75g strong cheese grated
- 150g breadcrumbs
- Places the chicken in a large saucepan with the onions, carrots, celery, parsley/mixed herbs, bay leaf, 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).
- Remove the chicken from the pan and leave to cool. Strip meat off the bones, tear up into large bite size pieces and set aside.
- Strain the cooking liquid into a saucepan and boil until reduced to 600ml/1 pint
- Add the cream, return to the boil then whisk in the roux a little at a time to form a thick sauce
- Blanch the broccoli in boiling water until just tender, then drain and refresh under cold water.
- Stir chicken, broccoli and strained veg into the sauce and season to taste.
- Pour this mixture into an ovenproof dish.
- Melt the butter and mix with the breadcrumbs and cheese. Spread over the chicken mix (I find the quantities make one large oven proof dish plus a 2 person portion in a pyrex freezer/overproof dish so I freeze a 2 person portion. If you had one deeper dish for the whole lot you wouldn’t need as much breadcrumb/cheese mix)
- Bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees C for 20mins or until brown and bubbling.
To make the Roux
Melt 50g butter in a small sauce pan, add 50g flour and stir until combined, take off the heat