Saturday, 29 January 2011

Baby chicken casserole

Makes about 5 portions for my nearly 9 month old.

I came up with this while looking for a recipe to use some chicken pieces.  It's not hugely flavoursome, I might add some garlic next time but it was his first time with celery and bay so it was mellow and pleasant without being a knockout.  It would probably be good for fussy ones as an introduction to meat.

Oil or unsalted butter
A chicken breast, cut into pieces
1 small onion, chopped small
2 carrots, chopped small
1 celery stick, chopped small
1 potato peeled and chopped into inch cubes (approx)
Butternut squash, approx 100g in half inch cubes
Thyme, a few sprigs
Bay leaf
Salt free chicken stock cube

Fry the chicken, onion, celery stick and carrots in the oil or butter.  Add the thyme, stock cube and boiling water, add the bay leaf, potato and squash.  Bring to the boil then simmer for approx 15-20 mins (or until the vegetables and chicken are cooked).  I took out the potatoes and mashed them separately to give a coarser texture and pureed the rest (remembering to take out the bay leaf after my pork and garlic experience!)

He seemed to like it.  You could add a bit of parsley in at the end for a bit more interest and flavour.

Talking about herbs, I grow a lot of herbs myself.  I think it's the one thing really worth doing to save money and add bags of flavour into your cooking.  My rosemary however, is looking a bit worse for wear after this winter, however, surprisingly my thyme and parsley (both mediterranean herbs) are looking lush and green.  Actually I have to confess to a bit of a thyme obsession and I currently have two well established plants in my garden; a golden thyme and a silver thyme.  Some thymes have obviously different flavours (lemon thyme for example) but I find even the others give slightly different notes.  I love thyme it goes on my roast chicken, in stuffing, in stocks, in pasta sauces, in stews.  It's such a versatile herb.

If you don't have the space for plants, do look at woody herbs in the shops and rather than buy fresh every time you need it, they freeze brilliantly.  When I say woody herbs, I mean things like rosemary and thyme. It doesn't take much space though.  I grow mint in a pot (because otherwise it takes over the garden) which, although it dies back every winter, soon perks up again in summer.

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