Recipe: Chicken & Sprout Stuffed Jackets

In the words of the legendary Nigella Lawson, this is more of a framework than a recipe and, definitely one you should try if brussels are not normally a veg that graces your plate!

So many people say they don't like brussel sprouts, basing that opinion on soggy, mushy, marble sized, blobs of green. I can see where they're coming from if that is their only experience of the winter vegetable. But let me tell you, sprouts, treated properly can be so much better than that...

Ways to cook brussel sprouts:

  1. Boiling is the most common way to cook sprouts and if that's your preferred method then don't over do it. Sprouts should be al dente, still perfectly vibrant green with a little bite to them. Then you get a wonderfully nutty flavour.
  2. However, once you have blanched them you can always fry off with bacon for a different flavour and this tastes wonderful, especially at Christmas if you throw in a few chestnuts too.
  3. Slicing sprouts and adding them to  a vegetable stir fry is also another fabulous way to use the vegetable because they maintain their flavour and structure.

    Fresh or frozen sprouts?
    I think fresh sprouts are always nicer than frozen because again, they don't tend to be as mushy and if you can get them on the stalk, they keep so much better and fresher than in a plastic bag.

    Chicken & Sprout Stuffed Jackets recipe:
    Sticking with the idea of using sliced sprouts, have a go at this recipe for Chicken & Sprout Stuffed Jackets. It is a flexible recipe that you can use for a great comforting family meal and pretty much use what you have to hand.

    Bake as many jacket potatoes as you have dinner guests 
    Dollop of butter
    Splash of milk
    Good handful of grated cheese of your choice, plus extra for the topping
    Left over chicken, about 150g diced raw chicken fried off or even sandwich chicken works in this recipe.
    Probably about 5 sprouts per person, less if they're massive, sliced.
    1/2 tsp chilli powder (or any herb you love)
    Salt & pepper

    Sprinkle your potatoes with sea salt to help make the skins crispy and bake them on a foil covered tray for about an hour to an hour and a half in a 180C oven until you have a soft centre and a crispy outside.

    Sprinkle your baking potatoes with sea salt before baking for a crispy skin

    Whilst the potatoes are baking, fry off your raw chicken with your sliced sprouts and chilli powder until you have a lovely golden colour on the meat and vegetable. If your meat is already cooked, fry off the sprouts and then add the meat at the end of heat through and then leave to cool.

    When the potatoes are cool enough for you can handle, or keep your oven gloves on, halve each potato and scoop out the flesh into a bowl. Put the potato skins back onto the tray and set aside ready to stuff shortly.

    Mash your potato flesh until you have smooth consistency

    Add a good dollop of butter and a splash of milk to the potato in your bowl and mash until you have a smooth consistency. Now add your grated cheese and your chicken, brussel sprout and chilli mixture, season to taste and fold everything together.

    Using a tablespoon, spoon the potato mixture back into the skins, you should gorgeous looking domes of deliciousness and before placing back in the oven, sprinkle with more grated cheese.

    Bake for about 15-20 mins until the potatoes are piping hot again and the cheese has melted and turned golden brown.

    Chicken & Sprout Stuffed Jacket Potatoes

    Serve with green salad or green vegetables or baked beans!

    Alternative ingredients:
    This recipe is so versatile; you could use bacon instead of chicken or go veggie and use red pepper and sweetcorn.

    You could add fried onion instead of sprouts or leeks for example.

    Chilli could be replaced with tarragon if you’re using chicken or thyme would work really well too. Paprika goes well with bacon.

    The stuffed jackets are naturally gluten-free but you could make the vegetarian or vegan by adding in more vegetables and using vegan-friendly margarine.

    Mini versions of this recipe are brilliant and they taste amazing cold so, they are ideal for buffets too.