Lola and Finn's Mum

Lola and Finn's Mum

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Disguising Broccoli so that Lola and Finn will eat it: Chicken and Broccoli Gratin

Yes, how do you get kids to eat greens? The fact is, I am mostly a failure at this, and Finn, fussy eater in particular, refuses to eat anything green with the exception of cucumber, which he eats quite happily. However he does like chicken, a lot, and I wondered whether this recipe would work. Tra la! It did. He ate quite a lot of this, and that in itself is a real vote of confidence for my cooking at least. Lola also gave the thumbs up.

This recipe is a bit faffy, and it's the kind of meal that you make when you are in for the day and can decamp to the kitchen every so often to complete the process. But you could make this the day before, ready to lash into the oven as and when. And, it is great, homely food.

The recipe is from the Irish foodie institution, Avoca Cafe cookbook. A gem of a cookbook which is full of fabulous recipes. if you happen across a copy, snap it up!

Oh, and the better the chicken, the better the dish. Whilst this recipe does suggest breasts as a possibility, I think a whole chicken is a better choice. You can buy a good quality chicken for cheaper than you can buy good chicken breasts, plus you get dark meat and white meat. Lovely!

Chicken and Broccoli Gratin, from the Avoca Cafe Cookbook

Serves Lola, Finn, Mum and Dad, twice

6 chicken breasts or 1 whole chicken (I used a chicken)
1 Spanish onion, peeled and chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery sticks, chopped
A few sprigs of parsley
1 bay leaf
A few black peppercorns
300ml/½ pint double cream
110g/4oz roux
1 large head of broccoli, divided into florets
15g/½ oz butter
110g/4oz breadcrumbs
Grated strong cheddar cheese

Prepare a roux by melting 50 grams of butter, then adding 50 grams of plain flour. Cook them over a low heat for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. preferably store the roux in a fridge for a few hours before use.

Place the chicken in a large saucepan with the onion, carrots, celery, parsley, bay leaf, peppercorns and enough water to cover. Bring slowly to the boil, then reduce the 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 the meat off the bones, dice 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 and then whisk in the roux, a little at a time, to form a thick sauce.

Blanch the broccoli in boiling salted water until just tender, then drain and refresh under cold water.

Stir the diced chicken and broccoli into the sauce and season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour this mixture into an ovenproof dish.

Melt the butter and mix in the breadcrumbs and grated cheese. Spread over the chicken mixture and bake in an oven preheated to 180ºC/350ºF/gas mark 4 for 20 minutes or until brown and bubbling

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