This delicious chicken casserole with crumble topping is the perfect family meal. Post sponsored by Arla Lactofree.
A few weeks ago I agreed to take part in a little challenge – to replace all my usual dairy products with Arla Lactofree alternatives. The Arla Lactofree range is extensive and comprises of milk, cheese, yoghurt, cream and spreadable. All products are free of sugar lactose, which triggers unpleasant reactions such as bloating and digestive discomfort in the intolerant. In terms of both texture and taste the products are an exact match to traditional dairy products – my fussy kids didn’t even realise there was a swap.
A few years ago I suffered from infrequent but severe bouts of stomach cramps which made me totally miserable. Visits to my doctor, keeping a food diary and trying elimination diets didn’t really help and in the end it turned out my IBS symptoms were triggered by stress. Having experienced those symptoms, I can certainly sympathise with those who suffer from intolerances and glad there are products specifically catering to their needs. Up to 15 per cent of the UK population are thought to to be lactose intolerant, according to research published in the American Journal of Clinal Nutrition.
I really enjoyed using the Arla Lactofree products during my two week challenge. I tend to have a lot of skimmed milk with my coffee throughout the day and I loved the little strawberry yoghurts as a snack – if fact I loved those so much I will continue buying them. The kids had their bagels spread with Lactofree spreadble and soft white cheese and I loved the convenience of the grated mature Cheddar for adding to chilli and fajitas. I also used the products in my baking – they are an exact match for traditional dairy products in both volume and taste.
I really put the Lactofree products through their paces in this lighter chicken casserole with crumble topping. The casserole is super-creamy without the addition of cream and also hides a few veggies under the crumble that my kids normally put a huge fuss over 😉 You can also make this casserole gluten-free by using gluten-free bread in the crumble, but make sure it is also dairy-free if serving it to those with a lactose intolerance.
- For the cruble topping
- 100g | 3½oz rolled oats
- 100g | 3½oz Lactofree mature cheddar, finely grated
- 85g | 3oz stale bread such as ciabatta, cubed
- 2 tbsp Lactofree spreadable, melted
- 2 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
- freshly ground pepper
- For the filling
- 1 heaped tbsp Lactofree spreadable to fry with
- 600g skinless chicken thights
- 2 leeks, finely diced
- 200g | 7oz button mushrooms, halved
- 100g | 3½oz fresh spinach
- splash of chicken stock or white wine to deglaze the pan
- 2 heaped tbsp Lactofree spreadable
- 2 tbsp cornflour (cornstarch)
- 450ml | 15fl oz whole or semi-skimmed Lactofree milk
- 70g | 2¼oz Lactofree mature cheddar, finely grated plus extra to top
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp mustard powder
- ¼ tsp grated nutmeg
- salt and freshly ground pepper to season
- Preheat the oven to 180C (350F)
- Make the crumble topping. Put all the oats, bread, cheese and parsley in a food processor or blender and pulse until you have breadcrumb consistency.
- Add the melted Lactofree spreadable and pulse again. The mixture should be crumbly and stick together when pinched. Season with pepper and set aside.
- Chop the chicken thighs into bite-sized cubes and trim of any fat. Melt the Lactofree spreadable in a large casserole or frying pan and then cook the chicken for a few minutes until browned on all sides. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
- Add a splash of wine (or stock) to deglaze the pan and scrape and browned chicken bits.
- Cook the leeks for 5 minutes then add the mushrooms and cook for another five minutes. Transfer the vegetables to the bowl with the chicken and wipe the pan clean.
- Melt the Lactofree spreadable and then add the cornflour, cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly until thickened.
- Gradually add the milk, stirring to mix it in. Add the cheddar, lemon juice, mustard powder, and nutmeg and season with salt and pepper.
- Stir in the spinach until it starts to wilt and return the chicken and vegetables to the pan. Stir everything together and bring to a simmer.
- Transfer to an ovenproof ceramic dish (mine was 23cm/9in) and then sprinkle the crumble over the top to cover.
- Place the dish on a baking tray and cook for 25 minutes, or until the crumble is golden and filling is hot and bubbling. If you like, add a sprinkling of cheddar towards the end of cooking time.
- Let the dish stand for 10 minutes and serve with buttered peas.
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