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Scrumdiddlyumptious for a weekend treat, I can see this is going to turn into an ApplePie favourite.  Trust me, it’s a lot less complicated than it sounds.  Easy to make in advance, giving you the chance to head out for the day knowing supper is sorted.  That’s exactly what I did on Celebratory Sunday last week, and it worked out just fine. It was probably better for having been left in peace and allowed to meld together.

Keeps well in the fridge for 48 hours and is delicious reheated, although you may wish to add a splash of milk to loosen the sauce a little. Serves 4-6, depending on how hungry you all are!

Ingredients

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 200g smoked bacon lardons
  • 300ml double cream
  • 250g Gruyere or Swiss cheese, grated
  • Rind of half a lemon, or a teaspoon of lemon juice
  • 1 tsp mixed herbs
  • 350ml chicken or vegetable stock
  • 800g Charlotte or Egyptian potatoes
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • 140g baby spinach (or one ‘medium’ bag), washed
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp plain flour

Method

Poach your chicken breasts by bringing a frying or sauté pan half full of water to a gentle simmer.  Add the lemon juice or rind, and the herbs, before placing your chicken in the pan. If you need more water to cover the chicken, add it and bring back to a simmer. Turn every 5 minutes until cooked through, usually 15-20 minutes, depending on thickness of the meat.

Whilst the chicken is simmering, wash and slice your unpeeled potatoes into 4-5mm chunks. Much smaller than that, and they will break, much thicker and they will take longer to cook.  Simmer for 6-7 minutes until a knife goes through but they are not quite cooked, then drain and set aside.

Soften the onion in the olive oil over a medium heat for 5 minutes, until translucent, then add the garlic.  After a couple of minutes, add the bacon lardons and fry for another 8-10 minutes until they are starting to colour and crisp up.  Then add the flour to the pan, and stir together until all the juices are absorbed.  It may be a little thick and lumpy, but this will even out in the cooking.

Add the stock and the cream to the bacon, onion and garlic, mixing the sauce gently together and allow it to simmer for a couple of minutes.  Don’t allow it to boil! Add seasoning, but go gently on the salt due to the bacon.

Remove your cooked chicken breasts from the poaching pan and discard the water.  Allow to rest for a couple of minutes before shredding.

In a large casserole dish, layer up all your ingredients: the potatoes, chicken, spinach and sauce, adding a sprinkling of cheese when you’re halfway up the dish.   Finish the top with potato and the rest of the cheese, before putting in the oven for 45 minutes until bubbling and browned.

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