Parlé Vous Francais? Nope, me neither. That, however, has never stopped me fantasising about living the provincial good life in a little French fantasy town, riding everywhere on a pretty fantasy bike (you know the one, with the whimsical basket filled with baguettes and cheeses) and being forever bathed in fantasy sun as I go on endless picnics with charming farm boys who bring me fantasy wine and pastries. Sadly fantasies that I allow to go on too long usually take a turn for the worse and suddenly I'm cooking dinner for fantasy farm boy's intimidatingly French mother and I've already spent most of my fantasy money on fantasy cheese, wine and adorable jumpers. How on earth can I make anything impressively French and tasty enough to pass muster?!
Luckily the answer to this (admittedly unlikely) situation came to me after trying one of Charlie Bingham's Breton Chicken meals from Waitrose and, as per usual, I set about working out how to make the dish from scratch myself. Most of the ingredients are things you're likely to already have in the cupboard and it won't break the bank, leaving you a few extra fantasy euros to pick up a cheeky bottle of vin.
Breton Chicken (Serves 2)
You will need:
For the Chicken:
- A glug of olive oil
- One medium onion, chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
- 250g diced chicken breast
- 100g pancetta
- One leek chopped
- 3 tbsp of fresh (or dried) tarragon, chopped
- Salt and pepper
- 30g butter
- 1.5 tbsp flour
- 250ml milk
- 2-3 teaspoons of English mustard pepper
- 150g cheddar cheese, grated
- Heat the oil in a large frying pan to a medium heat and put in the onions, stir and fry.
- Once the onion is starting to soften turn up the heat and add the garlic, chicken and pancetta and make sure to turn the chicken pieces so they get colour on all sides. This ensures they don't dry out while you make the sauce. Add the leeks, turn the heat down to low and allow to cook through stirring occasionally.
- While that's cooking get started on the sauce by melting the butter in a saucepan over a low heat. Once it's fully melted add the flour and stir the roux with a wooden spoon over the heat for about 5-8 minutes.
- Pour a dribble of milk on to the roux mixture and whisk it in vigorously, repeat this, increasing the amount of milk you pour in each time until you have a smooth sauce.
- Stir in the mustard and add the cheese a handful at a time, making sure it's melted into the sauce before adding another - you'll have to keep at the whisking because it gets thick fast at this point. Once all the cheese is gone throw in some pepper and half the tarragon. Give it a taste and add more cheese or mustard if you like.
- By now the chicken should be fully cooked, the leeks soft and the pancetta should be a little crispy on the edges, throw the rest of the tarragon in and stir it through. Add the sauce and give it a good mix so everything gets coated.
- Transfer to bowls and serve either with some fluffy rice, a lovely hunk of crusty buttered bread or use it as a particularly delicious pie filling.