This is one of Marcus’ favourite dishes from his latest cookbook New Classics. It’s pure comfort food and works well instead of a traditional Sunday roast or with leftover turkey on Boxing Day.
PREPARATION TIME: 25 minutes, plus about 40 minutes resting
COOKING TIME: 40 minutes, plus 5 minutes resting
3 skinless chicken breasts
250g baby spinach
1 egg, beaten
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
FOR THE SCONES
175g self-raising flour, plus extra for dusting
1 tsp baking powder
30g grated Cheddar cheese
1 tbsp finely chopped tarragon
1 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
½ tsp fine salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
100g cold butter, grated
FOR THE WHITE SAUCE
60g plain flour
300ml chicken stock
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
• Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/ gas 6.
• Lay a sheet of foil on your work surface. Place the chicken breasts, butter and a generous pinch of sea salt and pepper on top then gather the foil around it. Place the foil package on a baking tray and bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove and allow to cool in the foil for 20 minutes, then unwrap and roughly chop the chicken.
• Meanwhile, make the scones. Mix together the 175g flour, baking powder, grated Cheddar, herbs, fine salt and pepper in a bowl. When combined, rub in the grated butter with your fingers, until it is well dispersed (the mixture will have a fine crumb texture). Add just enough cold water (3–4 tablespoons) to bring the crumbs together to form a dough, taking care not to overmix, as this will make the scones tough. Form the dough into a ball, wrap it in clingfilm and place it in the fridge for at least 20 minutes.
• Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and blanch the spinach leaves for 1 minute. Refresh in iced water, until cool, then drain well. Squeeze out the excess water with your hands, a handful at a time. Roughly chop the spinach and set it aside.
• While the scone dough is resting in the fridge, make the white sauce. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan and when it starts bubbling whisk in the flour. Cook for 30 seconds, stirring, then gradually whisk in the milk and stock, a little at a time. When all the milk and stock have been added, bring the sauce to a gentle simmer and cook for 10 minutes, whisking regularly to prevent it catching on the bottom of the pan. Remove from the heat, add both mustards, the Worcestershire sauce and season with sea salt. Add the chicken and spinach and mix well.
• Remove the scone dough from the fridge and unwrap it. Dust the work surface with flour and roll out the scone dough to a thickness of 2cm, then cover it loosely with clingfilm and leave it to rest for 20 minutes.
• Put the chicken and spinach mix in an ovenproof dish (approximately 30 x 30cm) or four individual dishes (approximately 15cm in diameter). Cut out 25–30 rounds of scone dough, about 4–5cm in diameter, and place them on top of the chicken mix, without overlapping them. Brush the scones with the beaten egg. Bake for 20–25 minutes until the scones are golden and the chicken mix is bubbling.
New Classics: Inspiring and delicious recipes to transform your home cooking by Marcus Wareing, published by HarperCollins, £20
Image credit: © Jonathan Gregson