Wednesday, 17 April 2013

RECIPE: Healthy chicken and vegetable pie with a sweet potato topping

I love a good comfort dish, yet I also love a hearty, healthy meal that is good for me. This dish is one of those great ones that manages to do both. And I reckon it's about a kajillion of your five a day. Not to mention yummy.

It takes a little while to prepare, so bear that in mind if you decide to make it when already starving. I was kinda dilly-dallying around the kitchen to Greg James on the radio, consulting other recipes and making it up as I went along, but all the preparation took me about an hour and half, then it was in the oven for a further half an hour. You could also do the final browning of the top under a grill though, which would be quicker.

It's sort of a shepherd's pie, crossed with a chicken and leek pie, crossed with a vegetable lasagne. Ish. The great thing is you can totally vary the vegetables you use too - leeks would be nice, or maybe cauliflower. Go wild.

This serves four people with good appetites!


3 tbsp sunflower oil
4 chicken breasts
2 red onions, sliced
2 tbsp plain flour
300g (about 2 large) carrots, cut into rings
½ broccoli, broken into small florets
100g green beans, chopped into thirds
1 garlic clove, finely sliced
400g can chopped tomatoes
1 chicken stock cube/pouch
900g potatoes (a mix of sweet and normal), peeled and cut into chunks
A knob of butter
up to 200ml/7fl oz milk
200g frozen peas


1. Preheat the oven to 200C. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a pan and fry the chicken breasts until golden and cooked through. Leave to rest in their juices. Once cool, cut into bitesize chunks/slices.

cutting up the cooked chicken
2. Heat another 1 tbsp of the oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Add the onions and cook for 10 mins until softened, then stir in 1 tbsp of flour and cook for a further 2 mins. Add the carrots, broccoli, beans and garlic, and cook for 5 mins, stirring regularly, until they begin to soften.

the vegetable mix
3. Tip the tomatoes into the vegetables along with a can-full of stock and season. Cover with a lid and simmer for 10 mins, stir in another 1 tbsp of flour to thicken, then remove the lid and cook for 10-15 mins more, until the sauce has thickened and the vegetables are cooked. Season, stir in the peas and chicken and cook for 1 min more.

the boiled potatoes
4. While the chicken is resting and the vegetables are simmering, boil the potatoes for 10-15 mins until tender. Drain, then place back in the saucepan with a knob of butter and the remaining oil and mash. Stir through enough milk to reach a fairly soft consistency.

all ready to be spooned into the dish!
5. Spoon the hot vegetable mix into a pie dish, top with the mash and drag a fork lightly over the surface. Place in the oven for half an hour, or alternatively place under the grill for a few mins until the top is starting to get crispy. I learnt the hard way that if the potato doesn’t completely seal the dish the underneath mix will bubble up, but it doesn’t really matter.


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