Not a fancy recipe, but a useful one. I came up with it a couple of months ago and have made it several times since. It’s in the stroganoff-chicken tarragonaceae family of dishes, meaning it feels equally right for a Thursday night dinner as it does for a cosy Saturday supper with friends, or an afternoon gathering for family.
The dish is very much just a composite of the ingredients I had to hand in the house the day I made it. I wasn’t paying a huge amount of attention as I cooked it, chatting away and lashing in a bit of this, a bit of that, all my usual go-tos, smoked paprika, black pepper, Tabasco. Simmer; cook rice; make G&T; tidy the flat a bit; fry courgettes.
But some kind of alchemy happened with the flavours while it cooked – I think the green chilli plays a strong role. It was only when we’d sat down and started eating that I realised how delicious it was. It tastes familiar and very comforting but it also has a hum of the exotic, a band of warm sunshine running through it. And why the name, you ask? Well, it was Big Little Lies finale night so that was what decided it.
400g skinless & boneless free range chicken thighs
200g chestnut mushrooms, torn into chunks
400ml chicken stock
300ml crème fraîche
2 tbsps whole grain mustard
2 tbsps capers
1 level tbsp smoked paprika
Handful of fresh basil
2 medium sized green chillies (1 if they’re very spicy – be brave and try a little bit!)
Good splash of Tabasco
Basmati rice cooked with a few cardamom pods and cloves (1 cup of dry rice to 1.5 cups water as your multiplier; lid on; cook over a low temp till the water is absorbed and the rice is fluffy and dry)
Courgette slices fried at a very hot temperature with a dash of oil, then taken off the heat and some diced raw garlic added. Note: slicing the courgettes ahead of the time you intend to fry and leaving them exposed to the air results in a more golden, crisp fry but is not essential
Fry the chicken thigh fillets in some olive oil till browned. Add the torn chestnut mushrooms. Add the chicken stock and the crème fraîche and cook over a high heat. Add the mustard, capers, smoked paprika, some of the fresh basil (leave some to serve), some diced green chilli (leave some to serve) and a good splash of Tabasco. Season with lots of black pepper. Simmer until the chicken is cooked through. Once cooked, taste it to see if it needs any more of the flavours added. Meanwhile, start the rice and cook the courgettes. Serve the casserole over the rice, add the courgette slices and then garnish with the remaining basil & diced green chilli, season with black pepper & some more smoked paprika.