A centuries-old Lancashire dish of cold, stuffed chicken, made here with lean boneless breast rather than a whole chicken, and fromage frais instead of cream.
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1 bay leaf
1 small carrot, diced
1 celery stick, trimmed and sliced
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 unwaxed lemon
300ml (½ pint) dry white wine
85g (3oz) fresh wholemeal breadcrumbs
115g (4oz) ready-to-eat prunes, finely chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage, plus extra sprigs to garnish
Salt and black pepper
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
200g (7oz) low-fat fromage frais
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
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Method Prep:30min › Cook:1hr › Ready in:1hr30min
Put the bay leaf, carrot, celery and half the onion in a flameproof casserole. Cut a thick slice from the lemon and add it to the casserole. Add the wine and 300ml (½ pint) water. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 5 minutes.
Mix the breadcrumbs with the remaining onion, prunes and sage. Grate the zest from the remaining lemon and add it to the breadcrumbs, with salt and pepper to taste. Press the mixture together into a firm stuffing.
Make a horizontal cut into each chicken breast to form a pocket. Divide the stuffing between the pockets, pressing it into each. Tie string round each to secure.
Add the stuffed breasts to the casserole. Bring back to simmering point, cover and cook gently over a medium-low heat for 40 minutes, turning the breasts once. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.
Lift the cooled chicken from the casserole, remove the string and wrap in cling film, then chill. Boil the stock over high heat for 10-15 minutes, until reduced to about 100ml (3½ fl oz). Strain, cool and then stir in the fromage frais. Chill the sauce.
To serve, cut open the chicken and arrange on plates. Stir the parsley into the sauce, add salt and pepper to taste and pour it over and around the chicken. Serve with a leafy salad.