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Recipe: Grandma Lydia's Chicken

Grandma Lydia's Chicken

This recipe is from Chef Fern's late grandma Lydia. "It was the one meal my siblings and I would ask her to make every single time we went to stay with her. In Brazil this recipe is called ‘Pave de Frango’, but for us it is and it always will be ‘Grandma Lydia’s Chicken’," Fern says.


Serves 4

2 chicken breasts
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2Tbsp parsley, chopped
Pinch each of chilli powder and smoked paprika, optional
1 low-sodium chicken stock cube
1 cup tomato passata (fresh tomato puree)
1 x 300g  can corn kernels, drained
2 tsp cornflour
Salt and pepper, to taste

White Sauce
350ml milk
40g flour
50g unsalted butter
1 cup mozzarella cheese, grated
½ cup parmesan cheese, grated

Basmati rice and green salad, to serve


  1. To poach the chicken breasts, simply place them in a saucepan with enough water to cover them. Add a sprig of parsley, a few peppercorns and one layer of the peeled onion.
  2. Bring to the boil and simmer on a medium low heat for 20 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.
  3. Once chicken is poached, remove the breasts onto a plate. Strain 400ml of the poaching liquid into a measuring jug, dissolve the chicken stock in it and reserve.
  4. When cold enough to handle, shred the chicken meat. Reserve.
  5. In a saucepan, heat the olive oil and add the onion. Let it cook for 5 minutes or until soft.
  6. Add the crushed garlic and parsley and cook for 1 minute.
  7. Add the shredded chicken and season with a pinch of salt, cooking for a further 3 minutes, on a low heat.
  8. Add the tomato passata, the chilli powder and the paprika, if using it. Continue simmering for a couple of minutes.
  9. Add the drained corn and 250ml of the reserved chicken stock.
  10. Dissolve the cornflour in a little water and add it to the pan. Cook until the sauce thickens.
  11. Adjust seasoning and pour chicken mix into an ovenproof baking dish. Reserve.
  12. To make the white sauce, melt the butter in a small saucepan and add the flour.
  13. Cook for a couple of minutes then slowly add the milk and the remaining chicken stock, stirring well as your pour the liquid, to keep it smooth.
  14. Cook on a low heat until sauce thickens up. Mix half of the grated parmesan and check the seasoning.
  15. Pour white sauce on top of the chicken mixture and level it with a spoon.
  16. Sprinkle the grated mozzarella and the remaining parmesan.
  17. Bake in a preheated oven, 180 C, for 25 minutes or until golden and bubbling.
  18. Serve with basmati rice and a green salad.