Whenever I’m in Budapest looking to grab a quick lunch I sooner or later will come across “Chicken Dubbary style” on the menus of takeaways and restaurants. The dish gained popularity in home cooking too. A little bit fiddly as the seared chicken is topped with pre-cooked cauliflower, then with freshly made bechamel sauce and grated cheese before baked to perfection but well worth the effort. Thought I give it a try making it myself and it didn’t disappoint. Makes a tasty wholesome dinner and I can easily imagine a low-fat super healthy version of it too.
I love food served with a dollop of history, so couldn’t help a little digging again. The origin of this dish is of course not in Hungary but in historic France. Madame Jeanne Bécu, comtesse du Barry, a famous French beauty who was the official mistress of the ill-fated king, Louis XV and met a tragic end herself. In most cases the name Dubarry indicates a dish with cauliflower in white sauce. Why it is named after the comtesse is not quite clear. I read at a couple of places that it’s because she had such fondness for cauliflower, which sounds err.. unusual. A perhaps more believable suggestion is that the whiteness of the dish referring to her skin and the white florets might be the resemblance of the luscious white wigs they wore at the time. (source: www.theoldfoodie.com )
Ingredients – 2 servings
- 2 chicken breast fillets
- small head of cauliflower
- 2 tablespoons of sunflower oil, for pre-frying the fillets
- 20g butter
- 200ml milk
- 20g flour
- salt and pepper
- pinch of nutmeg
- grated cheese
How to make
- Break the cauliflower into florets and cook in salted water till just tender, it should retain a bite, once ready strain and set aside
- Meanwhile preheat oven to 200°C (400°F, gas-mark 6)
- Flatten the chicken fillets between sheets of clingfilm by carefully pounding them with a rolling-pin
- Season the chicken fillets then fry each side for a minute on high heat to quickly sear it and but careful not to over do it and dry it out at the end. Will have some more time to cook in the oven too.
- Prepare the bechamel sauce. Melt 20g butter, sprinkle with 20g flour, cook for a little while but it’s not needed to get to any colour change. Next while continuously stirring add 200ml milk in small batches. Bring to boil and cook till the sauce is fairly thick but still pourable. Season with salt and pepper and a little grated nutmeg.
- Lay out the flattened and seasoned chicken fillets in an ovenproof dish, spoon a little of the bechamel sauce on each then divide the pre-cooked cauliflower florets evenly onto the chicken fillets
- Spoon over the bechamel sauce and sprinkle the grated cheese on top
- Cook in a preheated oven for 30 minutes or untill cooked through and golden brown on top
- Serve piping hot with rice and a green salad