I'd found myself "going off" of chicken just recently. I suppose it's not that surprising when you consider how much chicken we've eaten over the last 12 months. You only have to look at the Recipe Index to see that! I'd started to not want to do the trimming of the raw chicken breasts and was slightly revolted by the smell of raw chicken.
Hence, I'd given myself a bit of a rest from chicken for a few days. I am pleased to say that when it came to trimming up these chicken breasts, I had no such qualms. All of which is good, because it was beginning to colour my enjoyment of chicken dishes.
I hadn't really left myself enough time to prepare this dish and was flapping a bit in the early stages. I seem incapable of working out how long I need, if I don't have a clock face to work it out from. Now I know I've got number blindness, but really, that seems a bit much! However, I shall just have to grab a clock the next time I am trying to work out how long I need for preparation, as rushing through it because you're scared it's going to be late, just isn't on.
However, it is testament to the ease with which the casserole came together, that it wound up only 20 minutes late instead of an hour. The last 10 minutes of that were probably superfluous, as I was just making doubly sure that the dumplings were done.
We all thoroughly enjoyed the meal, although I wasn't as wedded to the idea of the cheesy dumplings with the chicken as the chaps were. They were very appreciative of their cheesiness, but I wonder how much of that was just because they were dumplings - and my chaps do love a dumpling!
One note for future reference, was that the gravy wound up being in excess of what was wanted and also rather on the thin side. In fact, for speed, I broke out the gravy granules and threw a spoonful of those in to thicken the gravy. In future, I think I would reduce the amount of stock involved to begin with - and have reflected that in the recipe below. The only other changes were that I used chicken breasts instead of chicken thighs - so go ahead and use thighs if your family like them and omitted the herbs from the cheesy dumplings. The only reason I had for doing so, was because I am totally fed up with Thyme at the moment. I seem to be putting it in every-flipping-thing, so decided against it in this instance. I've included it in the recipe though, so it's up to you whether you want to include it or not.
Having made the casserole, I think that I might include some mushrooms for the next time around. They would improve the vegetable quota without affecting the texture or flavour all that much. Likewise, you could also add some cubes of swede, or pieces of parsnip, if you wanted to increase the vegetable quota.
The casserole wasn't a great one from an Inflammation Factor point of view (being chicken), so I just did my best with it in that I had less chicken and fewer dumplings, but more carrot and Tenderstem® broccoli. Hopefully that will have evened the score up a bit!
CHICKEN & TENDERSTEM® BROCCOLI CASSEROLE WITH CHEDDAR DUMPLINGS
2 tbsp olive oil
200g smoked streaky bacon, diced
3 chicken breasts, cut into chunks
2 heaped tbsp plain flour
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
3 banana shallots (or equivalent amount of any other kind of shallot)
2 sticks of celery, sliced
2 medium carrots, peeled & sliced
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp tomato puree
400ml chicken stock
200g Tenderstem® broccoli, each stalk cut into 2
For the dumplings :
100g self-raising flour
100g white breadcrumbs
140g butter, cubed
100g mature cheddar, grated
1 tsp dried thyme
2 medium eggs, lightly beaten
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
1. Pre-heat the oven to 180deg C/fan 160deg C/gas mark 4.
2. In a large casserole, heat 1 tbsp of the oil and add the bacon. Fry until golden and slightly crunchy, then remove from the casserole and reserve.
3. In a plastic bag, toss the chicken in the seasoned flour. Picking out the chicken, reserve the flour and add the chicken to the casserole and fry until browned all over, then remove and reserve.
4. Add another tbsp of oil, then add the shallots, celery and carrot and cook until the shallots have softened.
5. Add the remainder of the flour to the casserole and cook for a minute or so.
6. Add the chicken stock and stir to combine.
7. Return the bacon and chicken to the pot, then add the bay leaf and tomato puree. Stir to make sure everything is combined and well mixed.
8. Bring to the boil, cover with a lid and put in the oven for 30-40 minutes.
9. While the casserole is in the oven, make the dumplings.
10. Place the flour, breadcrumbs and butter into a food processor and whiz to a crumb-like consistency. Add the cheese, thyme, eggs and seasoning and pulse whiz to bring it all together.
11. Take spoonfuls and form them into dumplings. You should have enough for around twelve.
12. When the casserole has had 30 minutes in the oven, remove and stir in the Tenderstem® Broccoli. Sit the dumplings on top and return to the oven for 10-15 minutes uncovered, until the dumplings are cooked.
Inflammation Factor (approx) : -494 (-165 per person).