This is a great dish to make in advance and have frozen – see information in Prepare Ahead below. If you do cook it from frozen then just add an extra 15 minutes to the cooking time and cover it with tin foil if you think it is browning too quickly.
|salt and freshly ground black pepper
|15g fresh breadcrumbs
|small handful fresh parsley leaves
|1 tbsp plain flour
|1 tbsp softened butter
|2 chicken fillets (skinless and boneless)
|1 bay leaf
|4 medium potatoes (about 500g)
|1 small head broccoli (you need 200g florets)
|1 celery stick
|1 small red onion
Preheat the oven to 180C / 350F / gas mark 4. Cut the onion in half, then peel and finely chop. Peel the carrots and dice along with the celery. Cut the broccoli into small florets – you’ll need 200g in total. Peel the potatoes and cut into chunks, roughly the same size as the broccoli.
Place the onion, carrots and celery in a saucepan with the water and bay leaf and arrange the chicken fillets on top. Slowly bring to the boil, then cover with a lid and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 15 minutes until the chicken is piping hot with no pink meat and the juices run clear and vegetables are tender. Remember to wash hands and utensils in warm soapy water after handling raw chicken. Transfer the chicken to a plate and leave to cool a little. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Blitz the vegetable and water mixture with a hand blender until smooth (or if you don’t have one use a potato masher).
Heat a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the butter and once it is melted, stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute, stirring. Gradually whisk in the milk until smooth. Reduce the heat and simmer gently for another 3-4 minutes until reduced and thickened. Fold in the vegetable sauce.
Steam the potatoes for 6-8 minutes until almost tender. Add the broccoli and steam for another 2 minutes until the broccoli is just cooked but still with a little bite and the potatoes are tender but still holding their shape. Remove from the heat.
Finely chop the parsley and stir into the sauce. Season lightly with salt and pepper to taste. Cut the cooked chicken into bite-sized pieces and place in a small ovenproof dish with the potatoes and broccoli. Pour over the sauce and sprinkle the breadcrumbs on top. Bake for 25-30 minutes until piping hot and golden brown. Divide into portions and arrange on plates to serve.
This recipe can be made up to 2 days in advance and kept covered with cling film in the fridge within 2 hours of cooking. It can also be frozen for up to 1 month. The recipe can also be scaled up so you could make a double batch and then freeze individual portions in suitable containers. Defrost on the bottom shelf of the fridge before reheating in the oven or microwave once until piping hot.