This creamy chicken supper has loads of vegetables and is easy to make. It’s also a great way to make broccoli a favourite veg by covering it in crunchy breadcrumbs and letting it soak up the yummy sauce.
When my parents were a young couple they needed to watch every cent. Dad was studying medicine so they lived on my mom’s teacher salary. Mom is a brilliant and creative cook, so she used to make a few simple ingredients span multiple meals. She could make a single roast chicken feed them for three meals and enough for a chicken mayonnaise sandwich thrown in too. Watching my mother take the meat off a chicken is a masterclass in zero waste - she puts vultures to shame. She then boils the bones to make the base for an amazing soup (the boiled bones then end up as part of the homemade dog food she prepares too!).
To this day my mother can’t throw away a good bone - I’m pretty sure she cringes when she watches me cook as she could feed an additional three people with the peels, bones and skin that are left after my dinner prep.
One of the dishes she invented for leftover chicken was ‘broccoli chicken’. It was one of my childhood favourites and is something I want Little Goat to be able to enjoy too. The problem is, her version had cream of mushroom soup, butter and cheese in it, so it needed a dairy free make-over!
This recipe serves four hungry adults, but if you’re making for two adults and a little one you can put half of it aside for freezing before baking and save it for a day when you’re short on time.
In terms of the amount of chicken to use, this is a good sized roast chicken minus the wings and drumsticks, so you can have those for another meal. I find getting the meat off the wings and drumsticks is a fiddly exercise anyway, so this means less work too!
If you don’t want to roast a chicken for this (or buy a pre-roasted one) you can also just put chicken thighs in the slow cooker with a cup of water (remove the skins but leave the bones in and cook on low for about 6 hours). Then reduce the water you soak the cashew nuts in by a cup and use the chicken stock from the slow cooker.
If you have nut allergies you can replace the cashew cream with oat cream. I favour the cashew cream method because oat cream isn’t very widely available, but I’ve made it with both and they both work just as well.
Dairy Free Broccoli Chicken
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes
~1kg cooked chicken on the bone
1 large onion
2 peppers (red, yellow or orange are sweetest and work best in this dish)
1 large head of broccoli
¾ cup of cashew nuts (unroasted) (note: you can replace the cashews and water for 500ml of oat cream plus ½ cup of water)
2 ½ cups of water
60ml vegetable oil
3 Tablespoons flour
1 stock cube (use a low salt one for babies)
3 Tablespoons worcestershire sauce (you can leave out for under 1s)
3 slices of bread (crusts, stale bread or frozen slices work best)
2 Tablespoons dairy free spread
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C
Put the cashew nuts in the water and leave to soak (the longer you soak them the softer they get and the easier they are to blend, so you can do this the night before if you remember, but even a few minutes makes a difference)
Remove the meat from the bones of the chicken and put into an oven-proof dish
Chop the onion, courgettes and peppers and fry in a large pot in the oil until the onion goes translucent
Add the flour, worcestershire sauce and stock cube and stir well - let cook for 2 minutes
Meanwhile put the cashews and water in a blender and blend for 2 minutes until you have cashew cream
Add the cashew cream to the vegetable mix, a bit at a time, stir well then turn down the heat
Wash the broccoli and cut into small florets
Put the bread into a food processor and pulse until you have breadcrumbs, then add the dairy free spread and pulse until combined
Pour the vegetable and cashew cream over the chicken and mix together
Put the broccoli on top, with the stems inside the sauce
Cover with the breadcrumb mix and bake for 25 minutes until the breadcrumbs are golden and the broccoli has softened (for younger kids bake for an extra 5 minutes to make the broccoli a bit softer - you can cover the breadcrumbs with foil at this point if they are getting too dark)
Serve with hot sauce and extra worcestershire sauce for the adults
You can make and assemble the dish and freeze before baking.
If you debone the chicken and chop the veggies the night before then this is a reasonably quick dish to get in the oven.