Are you looking for a dish that just screams comfort food that is not 100% naughty? Then get in your kitchen, grab your apron and start cooking, cause this dreamy casserole is for you.
I am totally not a fan of winter; nothing brings a bigger frown to my face than the horrid weather that comes along with this time of the year. Down here in little Auckland our winter is filled with a combination of frozen noses from polar blasts, drenched clothes from the days of heavy rain and bones chilled from the wild winds. YUCK!! And as I sit here today, with a billion layers on writing this post, I am dreaming of the return of what felt like the never ending summer, that was abruptly taken away from me just a couple of weeks ago.
There are only two upsides to being forced into the depths of winter by Mother Nature; one is getting to spend the whole day in bed cuddled up with the dogs and the second is the ultra comforting food that I can justify eating. Like this casserole with its tender strips of roasted free-range chicken and crisp broccoli, swimming in a mustardy cream sauce that has been tucked in under a blanket of my Parmesan infused quinoa crumble. This is the ultimate comfort food, with a healthy twist that you have just got to try.
You are going to love the contrast in the texture between the crisp broccoli florets with the moist and tender free-range chicken strips. I used thigh meat for this casserole, as it is more flavorful and tender than chicken breast meat. You are going to adore the creamy sauce that these two ingredients get to swim in. Made from a combination of chicken stock and cream then injected with Dijon mustard for a fantastic tangy flavor.
And you are going to be hooked on the thick layer of my nutty quinoa crumble. I came up with this crumble as a healthy alternative to the usual breadcrumb version that most dishes like this have. It consists of a mixture of cooked quinoa, grated Parmesan cheese and ground almonds and creates the perfect topping for this casserole. The under part of the layer goes all soft as it soaks up some of the creamy sauce while the top becomes a crunchy crust, adding another great contrast in textures.
Ticking all the right boxes, rich, creamy and dreamy, this casserole dish is the perfect solution for the winter blues…… In fact I think I might just go make myself another one right now.
For the casserole
- 2 free-range chicken thighs 10.6oz/300 grams
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- salt & pepper
- 1 head broccoli chopped
- 1 oz 30g butter
- 1 onion chopped
- 2 tsp white flour
- 1½ tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1½ cups chicken stock hot
- 1½ cups cream
- salt & pepper
For the crumble mix
- 1½ cup cooked quinoa
- ½ cup ground almonds
- ½ cup Parmesan grated
- salt & pepper
- Preheat oven to 425 (220C). Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Spread out chicken thighs, drizzle over olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place in oven and cook for about 20 minutes or until cooked. Cool on cooling rack. Drop oven temp to 375 (190C).
- While chicken is cooking, line a 7”x10” (18cmx25cm) baking dish or similar with parchment paper. Cut up broccoli florets and place in bottom of dish.
- To make crumble add cooked quinoa, Parmesan and ground almonds into medium bowl. Season and mix well. Set aside.
- To make sauce heat saucepan on moderate heat and melt butter. Place onions in a cook for 5-7 minutes till soft. Add flour and stir for 1 minute. Then add mustard and stir. Gradually pour in hot stock while stirring. Take off heat and stir in cream. Roughly chop up chicken and stir in.
- Pour sauce over broccoli in dish. Then cover with crumble mixture making sure to spread evenly.
- Place in oven and cook for 15-20 minutes or until golden