Golden Chicken and Watercress Bake

For variation, you could use only one chicken and mix the cooked flesh with 1 lb shredded cooked ham/gammon, or simply use one chicken and halve the recipe (this will now feed 4/5).

Serves 8

2 x 3lb over ready chickens
Salt and pepper
Vegetables for flavouring stock
2 bunches watercress
2 ½ lb old potatoes
2 oz butter or margarine
2 oz plain white flour
Paprika pepper
10 fl. oz milk
10 fl. oz single cream
4 oz strong Cheddar or Lancashire cheese.

1. Place chickens in large pans of salted water with slices of vegetables to flavour. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for about 50 min or until the chickens are cooked through. Cool in the liquid for about 30 mins.

2. Lift out the chickens, reserving the stock. Cut the flesh into bite-sized pieces, discarding the skin and bone. Place in a large shallow oven proof dish. Finely chop the watercress, mix with the chicken, cover and refrigerate. Reduce down the cooking liquor until well reduced. Strain and set aside. Skim off any fat.

3. Meanwhile, peel the potatoes and cut into large pieces. Boil in salted water for 5 min only. Drain and cut into 1 inch pieces.

4. Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the flour with 1 level tsp. paprika and cook, stirring for 1 min. Mix in the milk with ¾ pint reserved stock (freeze any remaining stock). Season and bring to the boil, stirring all the time. Simmer for 3-4 mins. Take off the heat and stir in the cream and grated cheese. Adjust seasoning. Pour over the chicken and watercress. Top with potatoes.

5. Bake uncovered at 200 C, 400 F, Mark 6 for about 1 hr. or until the potatoes are cooked and golden brown. Sprinkle with more paprika to serve.

TO FREEZE Cool, pack and freeze to the end of stage 4. TO USE thaw overnight at cool room temperature. Bake as above.

Instead of reducing stock etc. use a stock cube with ¾ pint water.

Use pre-cooked chickens from supermarket deli counters to make it a lot easier. I also use more 3 x paprika, 2 x cheese and 1.5 x watercress to make the result taste even better! I also cook the potatoes pre sliced and for 10 mins – drain very carefully and handle with care as the slices will want to fall apart!