I think I have a movie idea for Hollywood, food that comes alive! But not like those goofy Fruit Of The Loom characters, that’s just weird.
I’m talking about comfort food like this chicken casserole. Straight up warm and tasty and ready to warm your insides on a cold snowy day. This casserole (if alive) would pick you up and hug you ever so gently, but that’s where it’d have to end because you’d be dripping in melted Gruyere cheese, people around you would be asking questions and cats and dogs would be licking at your ankles.
It’s that good.
I’m getting a little excited as we get closer to Thanksgiving because there’s no food group that I don’t like. Just give me all the sweet potatoes. I don’t care what’s on them or how you cooked them because they’re never going to taste bad, right?
This is a recipe full of crispy Pancetta chunks, white wine, chicken and fresh thyme. Cook for a time until those tell-tale bubbles appear around the sides of the dish and you know you’re nearly there.
Top generously with grated Gruyere and switch to the broiler. Gruyere is a fantastic cheese for becoming bubbly and brown.
Peek under the broiler and watch for those lava-like bubbles. I like to get really close which I don’t recommend, but it’s your call and nose.
Sprinkle with more fresh thyme when it’s done and ladle big scoops over some rice to soak up that sauce.
Chicken Casserole with Sweet Potato and Pancetta
- 2 large sweet potatoes
- 1 1/2 lbs skinless chicken breasts
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons fresh chopped thyme plus more for garnishing
- Salt and cracked black pepper
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1/2 cup diced shallot
- 4 ounces cubed Pancetta
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup milk
- 3/4 cup chicken stock
- 1 1/2 cups Gruyere cheese
- Preheat the oven to 350 F.
- Peel and half the sweet potatoes.
- Bring a pot of water to a full boil and cook the potatoes for about 20 minutes. Drain and set aside.
- Rinse and pat dry the chicken breasts.
- Slice them in half at an angle to create 4 smaller pieces.
- Mix the garlic, onion, chopped thyme, <g class="gr_ gr_217 gr-alert gr_gramm Punctuation only-ins replaceWithoutSep" id="217" data-gr-id="217">salt</g> and pepper together and rub all over the chicken pieces.
- In a large saute pan melt the butter and add the shallot. Cook until soft, about 2-3 minutes.
- Add the Pancetta and cook for a further 5 minutes or until the Pancetta is cooked and turning crispy.
- Add the wine and deglaze the pan scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.
- Cook for about 3-4 minutes and then add the chicken.
- Sear the chicken for 2 minutes on each side and transfer everything from the pan to an oven-proof dish. I used a 10-inch casserole dish.
- In the same pan, without cleaning it melt the butter (2 tbsp)
- Add the flour and whisk until it starts to turn light golden in color.
- Combine the milk and stock and gradually pour small amounts into the pan.
- It will thicken up but whisk well after each addition and you should have no lumps.
- Continue until all of the liquid has been added and simmer for about 3-4 minutes and the sauce starts to thicken.
- Season with some salt and pepper.
- Roughly chop the sweet potatoes into 1-inch chunks and arrange in the same dish as the chicken.
- Pour the sauce all over the chicken and sweet potatoes.
- Bake in the oven for about 45 minutes uncovered until bubbling.
- Test a sweet potato by piercing it with a sharp knife. It should go into it easily. If not cook for a further 5 minutes and test again.
- Switch your broiler to high.
- Sprinkle the cheese over the casserole and place under the heat.
- Cook until all of the cheese has melted and is bubbling and starting to brown.
- Sprinkle with some more fresh thyme and serve at once on <g class="gr_ gr_114 gr-alert gr_spell ContextualSpelling" id="114" data-gr-id="114">it's</g> own or over brown rice.