Béchamel sauce (also known as white sauce) is one of the five mother sauces of French cuisine. Traditionally used as a base for other flavours, it is the main component for things like cauliflower cheese and fish pie. But in this recipe, we’re baking chicken in this rich and comforting sauce, topping it with a herby golden crumb and serving it alongside roasted potatoes and carrots. If you can find a dish more heart-warming that this one, let us know!
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Flat Leaf Parsley
Chicken Stock Pot
Preheat your oven to 200°C. Chop the potatoes into 2cm cubes (no need to peel!). Remove the top and bottom from the carrots (no need to peel!), quarter lengthways, then chop into batons about the size of your index finger. Remove the root and dark green top from the leek, halve lengthways, then slice into thin half moons. Roughly chop the parsley (stalks and all).
Put the potatoes and carrots on a baking tray and drizzle over some oil, then toss with a pinch of salt and the dried thyme. Tip: You might need to use two baking trays for all the veggies, as you want them to be in a single layer so they crisp up. Roast on the top shelf of your oven until crispy, 30-35 mins. Turn halfway through cooking.
Meanwhile, heat a splash of oil in a frying pan on medium-high heat. Season the chicken with a pinch of salt and pepper. Fry until browned, 5-6 mins on each side, then place in an ovenproof dish. Pop your frying pan back on medium heat. Add the leeks, a splash more oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook until softened, stirring occasionally, 5-6 mins. Remove from the pan to a bowl and wipe out the pan with some kitchen paper.
Add the butter to your pan (still on medium heat). Once melted, add the flour and stir. Cook until you have a smooth paste, 1-2 mins, stirring a couple of times. Gradually whisk or stir in the milk and stock powder, then bring to the boil, stirring to get rid of any lumps. Once boiling (and thick), remove from the heat and add back in the leeks and half the parsley. Pour the sauce on top of the chicken in your ovenproof dish.
Mix the breadcrumbs with the remaining parsley and a glug of oil. Mix well, then sprinkle on top of the chicken and leeks. Move the potatoes and carrots to the second shelf and pop the chicken bake on the top shelf of your oven for 15-20 mins. Important: The chicken is cooked when it is no longer pink in the middle. If the veggies are cooked before the chicken take them out of your oven and cover with foil to keep warm.
When the chicken bake is ready, serve on plates with the roasted potatoes and carrots alongside. Enjoy!