Green Chicken Gratin

This is a lovely, comforting dish. It’s hot, creamy and carby but also has lots of bright fresh greens. Perfect in the depths of winter.

I like to shred the chicken and chop the veg into very small pieces so I can spoon it into my mouth and barely have to chew. You can use any vegetables you like, have in the house or are in season. Grated courgettes, spinach and green beans all work well.

Ingredients

3 chicken breasts

1 onion, cut in two

1 carrot, peeled

2 bay leaves

salt and pepper to taste

300g broccoli, chopped into florets

300g peas

300g cavolo nero, sliced into ribbons

2 tbsp crème fraîche or cream

250g breadcrumbs

50g butter

1 clove garlic, minced

Chicken. Put it in a pot with the onion, carrot, salt and pepper and bay leaf and cover with 500ml cold water, or enough to cover. Make sure the meat is lying flat and in a single layer to ensure even cooking. Bring to a slow simmer and allow to cook for 10 – 15 minutes, until no longer pink. Remove from the liquid and set aside to cool, before shredding the meat – it’s easiest to do this using clean hands.

Sauce. Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the flour. Cook, whisking constantly for 5 minutes so you lose the raw flour taste. Slowly pour in the stock, whisking constantly until you have a creamy, thick sauce. Add the crème fraîche or cream at the end.

Veg. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Place each item in the water and briefly blanch. Remove using a spider and place in the creamy sauce. Add the shredded chicken and check the seasoning.

Place the chicken and veg mixture in a baking dish.

Topping. Melt the butter with the minced garlic and pour over the breadcrumbs in a bowl. Stir to combine. Spread over the chicken in the baking dish and bake at 180°C for 30 – 35 minutes, until golden brown and bubbling at the edges. Allow to stand for 5 minutes before serving.