Chicken Breast with Mushrooms and Blue Cheese Sauce

This recipe arose due to the need to use up several bits and pieces in the Renegade stores – the cheese and cream being the main driving factors.
Oh the hardship ūüėČ
The resulting dish turned out to be very quick and easy to make, but felt like a real treat Рanother great midweek meal.

Chicken with mushrooms and blue cheese sauceServes 2

Ingredients
2 skinless chicken breasts
a sprinkling of olive oil
6-8 mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
2 knobs of butter
2 garlic cloves, crushed
75-100ml white wine
1 chicken stockpot/stock cube
2 dessert spoons (ish) of cr√®me fra√ģche – leave it out if you don’t have any
1 large tablespoon of cream cheese – I used chive flavoured Philadelphia
100-125ml double cream
125-150g gorgonzola, cubed Рor other blue cheese of your choice
2 teaspoons of fresh parsley, chopped
Freshly ground black pepper

Depending on the cheese you use, and how much of it, you may also need a couple of heaped teaspoons of cornflour, mixed to a runny paste with a little cold water, to thicken the sauce

Music

First you need to butterfly your chicken breasts.

Place your hand flat on top of the chicken – this holds it still and keeps your fingers out of the way at the same time.

Use a sharp pointed knife, and starting at the fat end of the breast, slice across the chicken, almost but not quite cutting it in half. It should still be joined at one edge and you should be able to open it up like a book – or a butterfly’s wings.

cover with cling flim and bash

Once you’ve done that, cover with cling film and bash with a rolling pin. ¬†Not too much – you want to tenderise and flatten it, not pulp and obliterate it.

Rub lightly with olive oil and cook on a preheated grill, turning once, for around 8-10 minutes or until cooked through.

mushrooms

Meanwhile, melt a knob of butter in a large pan and heat until it foams.

Add your sliced mushrooms in a single layer and cook, turning once, until both sides are beautifully browned.  Remove from pan but keep warm.

sauce ingredients

Make your sauce by melting a knob of butter in a pan over a medium heat then cooking the crushed garlic for a minute or so.

Add wine and stockpot/cube and heat until stockpot has melted.

Add cream cheese, cr√®me fra√ģche, cream and blue cheese and continue to heat, stirring frequently, until the cheese has melted. ¬†Do not allow to boil.

If necessary, thicken with a little cornflour paste.

Stir in chopped parsley and plenty of black pepper.

Chicken mushrooms and blue cheese sauce

Place cooked chicken breast onto a warmed plate, arrange sautéed mushrooms on top and pour over the blue cheese sauce.

Chicken breast with mushrooms and blue cheese sauce

Served with petit pois and green beans sautéed in herb butter, and oven baked sweet potato chips.

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Rich and Hearty Beef Casserole

When you wake up in the morning and the world looks like this, you need something hot, substantial and nurturing on the menu for dinner.

Rich beef casserole served with vegetable bake and rosemary roast potatoes

I think you’d be hard pushed to find something more fitting to that description than this beef casserole – chunks of beef and baby button mushrooms in a meaty, onion rich gravy – real¬†heart-cockle warming stuff. ¬†Bear in mind,¬†of course, it doesn’t¬†have to be snowing in order for you to have it¬†for dinner ūüėČ

To get the very best from the beef this wine infused dish is cooked low¬†and slow in the oven, allowing the meat to gently relax and get to know its fellow ingredients – it is by no means an ‘in a hurry’ recipe. ¬†The good news is that although it takes 4 hours to cook, it only takes about 20 minutes to prepare and needs to be tended only once during the cooking time (and then once more just before serving).

Ideally, it’s cooked in a pan or dish that can go from hob to oven (and back again), that way you don’t lose a scrap¬†of flavour. ¬†Ideal for the washing up situation too.

Rich beef casserole

To my mind all this makes it an excellent dinner for a weekend/day off: a stupendously good meal with just enough preparation and attention required that you can justifiably say you made an effort, but plenty of ‘hands off time’ in which to do weekendy/day off-ish things.

As a bonus, your house¬†gradually fills with the drool inducing, appetite stimulating aromas of herbs and garlic and meat and wine – so good. ¬†By the time it’s ready, believe me, so are you!

Serves 3-4 if presented with side dishes
Serves 2 if eaten with nothing but thickly buttered crusty bread

Ingredients
400g diced beef braising steak
4-5 rashers of streaky bacon, each cut into about 6 pieces (use scissors – so much easier than a knife ūüėČ )
1 onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
3-4 sticks of celery, diced (if they have leaves on, chop those up and throw them in too…they’re full of flavour)
12-14 shallots, peeled
Several tablespoons of olive oil
2 beef stockpots/stock cubes
1 mini bottle (about 200ml) red wine
800ml water
2-3 heaped teaspoons cornflour, in a mug or small jug, mixed to a paste with a little cold water
200g button mushrooms, cleaned but left whole
1 bay leaf
A sprig of thyme
Freshly ground black pepper
Music

Ok, have you got everything together and done your prep? ¬†Let’s go then…

Preheat the oven to gas mark 2/300¬įF/150¬įC

cubed beef

With the heat reasonably high, heat 1 or 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a casserole dish or oven safe pan and brown the beef, a few pieces at a time; remove cooked pieces from the pan and set to one side.

browned shallots

If necessary add another tablespoon of olive oil to the pan, allow it to heat, then quickly brown your shallots and bacon.  Remove from pan and set to one side.

crushed garlic, diced onion and celery

Having cooked off some of the bacon fat it’s unlikely you’ll need more oil in the pan, but add a little if you need to and allow it to heat up. ¬†Now add the celery, onions and garlic and cook until just starting to brown.

Return the meat to the pan.

wine and stockpots

Add the red wine and stir well, making sure you scrape any  gorgeous, caramelised brown bits off the bottom of the pan.

bay leaf and thyme

Add water, stockpots, bay leaf and thyme and bring to simmering point.

Put the lid on the pan and put it in the oven.

Set a timer for 3 hours.

after 3 hours

After 3 hours retrieve your casserole from the oven.

mushrooms

Add bacon, onions and mushrooms, and a little more water if you think it’s going to dry out too much over the next hour. ¬†Don’t add too much though, you’ll dilute the flavours.

Put the lid back on and put the pan back in the oven.

Set a timer for 1 hour.

transfer to stove top to thicken

After 1 hour take the pan from the oven and put it back on the hob on a medium heat.  Fish out the thyme twig and the bay leaf and discard.

add cornflour

Ladle a little of the gravy into the mug containing the cornflour paste, stirring to mix well.

Pour the liquid back into your pan and cook, stirring continuously, until gravy has thickened.

Rich beef casserole with veg bake and rosemary roast potatoes

Serve with whatever you fancy…mashed potato and green beans…or tiny boiled potatoes, carrots and broccoli…or baked potatoes and mange tout…or…

Shown here with rosemary roast potatoes and cheese topped vegetable bake.

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Cottage Pie (of sorts)

Because I’m something of a pedant at times, I’d like to¬†get something cleared up: a shepherd’s pie is made using lamb and a cottage pie is made with beef. They are not interchangeable names,’k? ūüėČ

Now that’s sorted, let’s clarify something else: a traditional cottage pie contains¬†diced carrots and celery, perhaps some peas, and is topped with mashed potato. ¬†This is not a traditional cottage pie recipe, but by swapping ingredients you could make it so.

Baked til golden brown

Serves 3-4

Ingredients
1 small swede
2-3 carrots
3-5 potatoes
a knob of butter
1-2 onions, diced
approx. 1 tablespoon oil
500g minced beef
some mushrooms, sliced
500ml good beef stock OR 500ml water & 2 beef stockpots/stock cubes
2 tablespoons cornflour, in a mug, blended to a smooth paste with a little cold water
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Music

Pinny on? ¬†Peeler a go-go? ¬†Ok then…

Set the oven to preheat at gas mark 5/375¬įF/190¬įC.

Carrots, swede and potatoes
Now, let’s get cracking with the root vegetable mash topping.

Peel and dice the swede, peel and slice the carrots, peel and cube the potatoes; place everything into a large pan of water and boil until tender. ¬†Don’t bunk off while your veg is boiling – you need to get your pie filling ready.

Diced onionsHeat the oil in a medium pan, add diced onions and cook until soft but not browned.

Add mince and cook, stirring, until the mince becomes that attractive grey colour.

Sliced mushroomsDrain off any excess fat, add sliced mushrooms and cook for a few more minutes.

Stock pots and cornflourAdd beef stock and bring to the boil then turn down heat a little.

To thicken the gravy, ladle some of the hot stock into the mug with the cornflour paste, stir really well to make sure there are no lumps, then tip the whole lot back into the pan, stirring all the time. Simmer for another minute or so then remove from heat.

Minced beef and mushroomsPour into an oven proof dish (or individual ones) and allow to cool slightly. The cooling helps stop your mash sinking.

Add a good knob of butterWhen your vegetables are cooked (you hadn’t forgotten about them had you?), drain them and return to the pan. Add a generous knob of butter and a good helping of salt and pepper. Mash.

 

Pile mash on topSpoon mashed veg on top of meat and gravy, flatten down with a fork, then bake in the preheated oven for around 25-30 minutes, or until top is golden brown.

It’s a good idea to put an empty baking tray at the bottom of the oven to catch gravy overflow.

Cottage pieServed with braised red cabbage and steamed green beans.
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Stinky mushrooms (mushrooms in blue cheese)

Day 7 of the Cupboard Challenge¬†presented an unmotivated Renegade household with mushrooms and blue cheese that urgently needed using up…it really had to be stinky mushrooms. ¬†This was absolutely no hardship, because stinky mushrooms are flippin’¬†delicious!

They make the perfect,¬†easy wind down meal for a stay-in Friday (she says, as if on a ‘normal’¬†Friday social fluttering is the¬†standard¬†order of things – there are¬†¬†pandas with more active social lives than mine). ¬†These mushrooms also make a great starter when served in individual dishes and browned off under a hot grill.

For this meal we had them with baked potatoes. ¬†If you’re planning to do the same and they’re not yet ready, I suggest you whack those spuds into the oven straight away. ¬†Now bugger off to do something else until 10 minutes before they’re done.

Back so soon?

To serve two

Ingredients
5-6 decent sized mushrooms (chestnut ones are great but we only had white ones in)
A knob of butter and a little oil
Approx 150ml Single cream
1 teaspoon-ish mustard
A chunk of blue cheese – cubed
A tiny end piece of Parmesan – grated (optional)
A handful of fresh parsley – roughly chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Music

MushroomsClean or peel mushrooms, and slice.
Browned mushrooms

Heat butter and oil in a frying pan then add the mushrooms.

If you want to make sure you get beautifully browned fungi, remember¬†Julia’s edict: “Don’t crowd the mushrooms!” ūüėČ ¬†Cook in batches; drain on kitchen roll.

Cheese sauce ingredients

Cheese sauceWipe the pan clean with kitchen roll.  Add cream, cheese (both blue and Parmesan, if using) and mustard; stir over a low heat until cheese has melted.

Add mushrooms back into pan and stir to coat with sauce.

Adjust seasoning to taste and stir in chopped parsley.

Baked potatoIf you’re having this as a starter or stand alone dish, pile the mushrooms into individual dishes, top with a little grated parmesan and brown under a hot grill.

If you’re having the mushrooms in baked potatoes, cut open the spuds, slather in some butter and add a good dose of black pepper.
Served in baked potatoes, with saladPile sauced mushrooms into baked potatoes and serve with a salad of chopped apple, celery and rocket (no dressing required).

Eat with feet up, while watching nonsense TV.  If possible, wash it all down with an ice cold bottle of cider.

And relaaax….
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