DAVID WOODS: Try a new chef’s chicken dish that has amazed top judges

Chicken and herb roulade on spinach and coconut puree with a spicy jus
Chicken and herb roulade on spinach and coconut puree with a spicy jus

Chicken is so versatile but still has the ability to impress. David Woods, executive head chef of the Sofitel London Gatwick Hotel, reveals a winning recipe...

We are still pinching ourselves at the amazing achievement of our newest chef, Gabriel Florea.

Chicken and herb roulade on spinach and coconut puree with a spicy jus

Chicken and herb roulade on spinach and coconut puree with a spicy jus

He has only been cooking for eight weeks and yet managed to beat other chefs to make it through to the national finals of the Nestlé Professional Toque d’Or Apprentice competition (see page 11).

It only seems like yesterday he was chopping onions as one of our kitchen porters.

As a student at Central Sussex College, Gabriel is making food his career and says he wants to have his own restaurant one day.

So, I thought this week I would devote the recipe column to his winning dish – a chicken and herb roulade served on a spinach and coconut puree with a spicy gravy.

Gabriel Florea adding the finishing touches to his signature dish

Gabriel Florea adding the finishing touches to his signature dish

To wow the judges, he served it with a potato rosti, and decorated the plate with edible flowers and tiny peppadews.

But I’m sure your hungry guests will be just as impressed with new potatoes or a creamy mash.

We are now all keeping our fingers crossed and wishing Gabriel lots of luck for the grand final, which takes place in London from March 21-23.

To book a table at La Brasserie, Sofitel’s 2 AA rosette restaurant, call 01293 567070, select 3 for dining or email SLG@sofitelgatwick.com.

Follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook. Share your chicken recipes with us on Instagram by tagging @SofitelLondonGA.

Chicken and Herb Roulade on Spinach and Coconut Puree with a Spicy Jus

Serves 4


Four boneless chicken breasts with skin on

40g of chopped thyme leaves

500g bag of baby spinach leaves

100ml coconut milk

Salt and pepper

250ml good quality chicken stock

250ml good quality veal stock (or you can use beef stock)

100ml white wine

3 cloves of garlic, crushed

knob of butter

2 tsp chilli flakes

100g basil leaves

leaves from one sprig of thyme


Remove the chicken skin from the breasts and season with salt. Place on a rack in a hot oven, 180oC, for 12-15 minutes until golden and crispy. Cool and break into small pieces. Leave to one side.

Butterfly the chicken breasts – use a sharp knife to slice into the chicken breast sideways, start at the thicker end and end at the thin point. Be careful not to cut all the way through to the other side. Then open out the two halves to reveal an even fillet.

Sprinkle both sides of the fillet with the thyme, salt and pepper, then roll up tightly.

Roll in a double layer of Clingfilm and twist both ends tightly – like a Christmas cracker – and tie a knot in each end.

Place in a large saucepan of simmering water and simmer for 40 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and leave to rest for 5 minutes.

While the chicken is poaching, put in the crushed garlic, chicken and beef stock, white wine, chilli flakes, thyme leaves and half the basil leaves. Bring to the boil and simmer until reduced by half. Whisk in the butter until smooth.

For the spinach and coconut puree, heat the coconut milk in a small pan and add the spinach leaves and rest of the basil. Remove from the heat as soon as the spinach has wilted. Season with salt and pepper, then blitz with a hand blender and pass through a sieve.

To serve

Remove the chicken breast from the Clingfilm and cut each one in half. Put a little of spinach puree onto four warm plates and put the chicken breasts on top. Scatter crispy chicken skin over the dish and serve with the spicy jus.

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