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Chicken, Red Pepper and Cheese Bake

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Chicken, cheese and red pepper may seem like an unlikely combination but this free recipe combines these ingredients into a mouth watering and satisfying dish that is relatively easy to prepare. One of the skills needed is to make a smooth cheese bechamel sauce. This sauce is the base for many other dishes and your patience will be rewarded by a smooth creamy combination that can be used elsewhere. Serve with traditional vegetables such as carrots, cauliflower (which also likes the  cheese sauce) and potatoes or on a bed of pasta such as tagliatelli. If using frozen chicken, make sure that it is thoroughly de-frosted before cooking.
Preparation time 30mins, cooking time 60 minutes.


Ingredients for 4 servings:

  • 4 skinless and boneless chicken breasts, approximately 500g in total.

  • 1 medium onion, about 150g (6oz) chopped relatively finely.

  • 1 large or 2 small red peppers, approximately 150g (6oz) cut into strips 1/4" (6mm) wide and 2" (5cm) long

  • 100g (4oz) medium strength cheddar cheese, grated

  • 25g (1oz) breadcrumbs

  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) Salt

  • Fresh ground black pepper to taste

  • 1 tablespoon (15ml) olive oil

  • 25g (1oz) butter

  • 25g (1oz) plain flour

  • 450ml (3/4pt) milk



Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees C, 400F, gas mark 6. If using a fan oven adjust lower to suit.

Make the bechamel sauce as follows:
Melt the butter gently in a 1l preferably non-stick saucepan over a low heat. Carefully add the flour little by little stirring continually until you have a thick textured and even dough like mixture. Do not overheat.
Add a little milk, keep stirring. Keep adding the milk in small increments and keep stirring gently. Slowly the mixture will become thinner but remain smooth. If lumps start to form, stir a little longer before adding further milk. When all the milk has been added, add 75g (3oz) of the grated cheese, stir until all the cheese has melted. Add the salt and ground pepper, stir well. Turn off the heat and put to one side.

Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium high heat and when hot, add the onion and 125g of the red pepper, stir and fry for 3 minutes or until the onion is transparent. Add this mixture to the white cheese sauce. Stir until thoroughly mixed.

Put the chicken into the frying pan and fry until lightly browned all over. Transfer the chicken to a shallow dish (about 4cm, 1.5" deep) and 200mm (8") square. Pour the sauce mixture over the chicken.

Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the sauce and put into the oven. cook for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle over the remaining grated cheese. Garnish by arranging the remaining red pepper around the top.

Put the completed dish back into the oven and cook for a further 30 minutes.

Remove and serve immediately.

Bon appetite!

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Updated 15/1/2006