This dish came about because a couple of days ago it got to 5pm and I realised there was absolutely nothing in the fridge. If you have one child or even two children that’s not the end of the world as you can probably nip out to the shops, but with a five-year-old, a two-year-old and a baby you don’t nip anywhere, you make do.
Finally after considerable rummaging, during which I briefly wondered whether I could feed three children with two fish fingers (I know, I know, loaves, fishes etc etc) I found three frozen chicken thighs, which suddenly felt like winning the jackpot.
My campaign to get the kids to like chicken is gaining traction, partly because I have discovered that stealth flavour bombing is a thing. I poached the chicken thighs in herbs and stock, so it looks like plain chicken and it tastes – well, it tastes pretty great. Then I steamed the rice in the leftover chicken stock and served it to the kids with raw vegetables. And they ate it all. It felt like a huge win out of nowhere.
I was a bit high on my own frozen chicken hubris, so for the grown-up version I decided to wave the chimichurri wand over the dish (honestly, I think an old shoe would taste good with chimichurri on it) and made some quick pickles for a sour tang. It worked out pretty well.
Poached chicken a la Nigella
3 chicken thighs
1 stock cube
1 bay leaf
1 stalk celery
5 stems parsley
Put chicken thighs in a pan with the water. Bring to the boil and skim off the froth that forms on top. Once the surface is clear, add the celery, parsley, bay leaf and the stock cube and simmer. The chicken should poach for a total of 30 minutes.
1 cup basmati rice
1 cup poaching fluid
Wash a cup of rice in fresh water. Drain and put in a pan with a cup of poaching fluid from the chicken. Bring to the boil and then immediately reduce to a simmer. Cook for 12-15 minutes.
You can pickle many different vegetables. It depends on what you have. In this instance I pickled golden beetroot and carrots in white wine vinegar. You could also use a red onion, cabbage, radishes, kohlrabi or even broccoli stems.
100g golden beetroot
small handful of sea salt
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 cup water
2 tbsp sugar
Chop your vegetables and toss them in salt. Leave them for at least 30 minutes before rinsing off the salt in plenty of fresh water. Leave them to salt for longer if you have time (up to an hour is good). Make the brine by dissolving the sugar into the vinegar and water in a small pan on low heat. Once the sugar is dissolved, set the brine aside to cool. Pour the cooled brine over the vegetables and leave them at room temperature for a an hour or so, or as long as you have.
30g flat leaf parsley
4-5 cloves garlic
juice of 1 lime
Dice the parsley, coriander and garlic (or blitz them in a food processor) then add oil and lime juice until the consistency is saucelike. Season to taste.
You could use spinach, kale, chard or any robust leafy green here.
6-8 leaves rainbow chard
Roughly chop the greens and pour over a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar and a tiny pinch of salt. Toss to coat the leaves in dressing.