Chicken, Mushroom & Broccoli Bake

This dish reminds me of a dinner my mum used to make for me – she took an uncharacteristic shortcut and made hers with cream of broccoli soup, as I recall. For me, it is comfort and nostalgia on a plate. This version dispenses with the tin of soup, but I redress the balance by serving mine with a tin of corn kernels. A perfectly complete meal.

Designed to use up cold, cooked chicken, it’s even better with a spoonful or two of leftover gravy, should you happen to have some about your person. If not, never fear – just leave it out and move on.

When you make this, take care to cut the broccoli, mushrooms and chicken into relatively small pieces; eating this with a fork alone is part of the joy.

Feeds 3 – 4

Ingredients

1 head broccoli, cut into small florets
1 tbsp butter
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 large onion, chopped
200g mushrooms, sliced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 heaped dessert spoon of flour
1 small glass white wine (about 1/2 cup)
1 + 1/4 cups milk
Leftover gravy (optional)
50g aged cheddar cheese, grated
250g cooked chicken, cut into small pieces
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs

To serve: 1 – 2 tins of corn kernels

Method:

Steam or boil the broccoli for just 2-3 minutes to take out the rawness, but leaving a bit of bite. Remove, drain in a colander and set aside to to steam dry.

Butter a baking dish and set aside for a moment.

Heat a frying pan over medium heat. Add the butter and a little olive oil, then add the chopped onion and a pinch of salt. Add the mushrooms and cook down until they have begun to shrink and give off their liquid. Add the garlic and cook another 5 minutes, until mushrooms are browned and softened. Add the flour, stirring to coat, and cook for a minute or two. Next, add the white wine and cook until it has almost evaporated and the sauce begins to thicken. Slowly add the milk while stirring, then add the gravy if you happen to have some lying around. Cook, stirring often, until the sauce has thickened (5 – 10 minutes).

Once the sauce has thickened, turn off the heat and add the grated cheddar. Stir until melted, then add the chicken pieces and steamed broccoli. Stir everything together, then tip into your prepared baking dish and smooth into an even layer.

Add the breadcrumbs to a bowl, then drizzle over a little olive oil and sprinkle in some salt and pepper. Give the crumbs a stir with a fork, then sprinkle over the top. Set aside until you’re ready to bake, or cover and pop in the fridge.

Make ahead: Prepared dish can be covered and refrigerated up to 24hrs ahead, with the proviso that if you’re making this more than two hours ahead, you should wait to sprinkle over the breadcrumbs until you’re almost ready to bake. Remove from the fridge 30 minutes before baking.

To bake, preheat the oven to 375F / 190C / 175C Fan. Cover the dish with foil, then bake for 25 – 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for a further 15 minutes, or until golden and bubbly. Leave to stand for a couple minutes before scooping onto plates next to some corn kernels.

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