This recipe is testament to the miracles that can occasionally come out of the kitchen thanks to some frantic fridge raiding and seat of the pants cooking!
I was out walking Holly one sunny Saturday morning when the call came – “cricket’s off, I’m going fishing and I’ll be back in time for tea”. The poached egg on toast I’d been planning for my tea was never going to satisfy a non-dieting and hungry fisherman so cue some frantic mental stocktaking of the fridge and freezer contents. It was a huge hit, so much so that I was coaxed into making it again the following week. The first time I made it I used up some leftover frozen chicken from the freezer, but I’ve made it with fresh chicken breasts since which was almost as good. If I’m honest, the smaller chunks of leftover roasted chicken worked better, but that’s just a personal preference.
For two people I used :
½ a leek (or all of a very small one)
1 small carton of chestnut mushrooms (approximately two cups when chopped)
Knob of butter
¾ - 1 cup of rice – I used a mixture of Camargue red, wild and white basmati rice
About a cup or so of leftover cooked chicken, or two whole chicken breasts.
1 ½ - 2 cups of chicken stock (double the volume of the rice you used)
Finely dice the celery, leek and carrot and add to the butter in a small frying pan over a low heat. Clean the mushrooms and chop half of them finely and add to the frying pan. Coarsely slice the remainder of the mushrooms and add those too, together with a seasoning of ground black pepper and sweat gently for 10 – 15 minutes.
Add the rice to an ovenproof dish and make up the stock – I like Knorr stock pots best for this sort of thing.
Turn the vegetables together with their buttery juices into the dish with the rice and combine together, pour over the stock and season with salt to taste. If you’re using leftover cooked chicken add this to the dish as well now. If you’re using fresh chicken breasts brown them first in a little butter, season with a little salt and pepper and then add them to the dish.
Cover with foil and bake at 200oC (400oF/gas mark 6) for about an hour, until the rice is cooked and all the stock is absorbed. If you like, you can uncover for the last 10 – 15 minutes to finish browning the chicken.