Over the last three weeks we've experienced beautiful kindness and generosity. Friends have been quick to drop off food parcels, scoop up tired boys or donate a caffeine hit to sleep deprived parents. We've sat by the fireside, eaten like kings and felt so grateful.
As we begin to see the light dawn on our second month, we are learning to embrace life on our own without quite so much assistance. My first supermarket shop and my first recipe happened on the same day and it felt good to cook again, so good.
I made a simple, all in one pilaf with roasted chicken, spices, herbs and brown rice. It's an easy recipe, it had to be, and one that was fragrant yet filling. Just what was needed.
WHOLEGRAIN CHICKEN PILAF WITH MINT, POMMOGRANATE SEEDS AND LEMON ZEST
4 large, bone in, chicken thighs
2 tsp. Chinese five spice
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 red onions, finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
5 cardamom pods, bashed
2 star anise
250g/9oz brown rice
750ml/1 ¼ pints hot vegetable stock
4 tbsp. almonds, toasted
25g/1oz mint, roughly chopped
25g/1oz parsley, roughly chopped
Grated zest and juice of a lemon
Seeds of 1 small pomegranate
1 Preheat the oven to 200C, fan 180, gas mark 6. Place the chicken thighs on a baking tray and sprinkle over the five spices. Drizzle over 1 tbsp. olive oil and roast for 20 minutes or until cooked through. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
2 Meanwhile heat the remaining 1 tbsp. olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium-low heat. Add the onion and gently sauté for 10-12 minutes until soft and starting to caramelise. Stir though the garlic, cardamom pods and star anise and cook for a further minute. Add the rice and stir well.
3 Pour over the hot stock and bring the pot to the boil them simmer gently, covered, for 25-30 minutes until all the stock has been absorbed and the rice is tender.
4 Once the chicken is cool enough to handle remove the meat from the bones and finely slice. Add to the rice, with any remaining juices, and season with salt and pepper.
5 Stir through half of the mint and parsley. Serve, topped with the remaining herbs, pomegranate seeds, toasted almonds, lemon juice and zest.