Home Lifestyle Comfort food recipes that are actually good for you

Comfort food recipes that are actually good for you

Comfort food recipes that are actually good for you

There are various incarnations of one-pan chicken and rice dishes, originating from all over the world, and this version, which includes some lovely Spanish flavours, is one of my favourites,” says Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.

“It’s delicious and satisfying, with tangy sweet peppers and tomatoes, and spicy chorizo, to balance the soothing rice, chicken and brothy juices.”

Chicken and chorizo rice

Serves: 6


1 large or 2 medium onions, sliced

3 red, orange or yellow peppers, deseeded and sliced

2 fat garlic cloves, sliced

100g chorizo, diced

1-2 tbsp olive or rapeseed oil

1 bay leaf

250g brown rice (such as basmati), well rinsed

1 small chicken, jointed, or 6 bone-in chicken thighs

200ml white wine

About 500ml well-flavoured chicken stock

200g cherry tomatoes, halved if large

Sea salt and black pepper


1. Preheat the oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5.

2. Put the onion(s), peppers, garlic and chorizo into a large roasting dish with just a trickle of oil (the chorizo will release its own fat so you don’t need much). Add the bay leaf and some salt and pepper and toss together well. Place in the oven for 25 minutes.

3. Tip the rice into a saucepan, cover with plenty of boiling water and bring to a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes, until almost al dente (still firm to the bite), then drain.

4. Heat a trickle more oil in a large frying pan over a medium-high heat. Season the chicken skin. Put half the chicken pieces into the pan, skin side down, and season their other sides. Fry the chicken for around eight minutes, turning occasionally, until each piece is nicely browned. Transfer to a dish. Repeat with the remaining chicken pieces. Everything should be coming together at roughly the same time now: veg, rice and chicken! If the veg or rice get a few minutes more cooking, it doesn’t matter.

5. When you’ve taken all of the chicken out of the frying pan, add the wine. Let it bubble while you scrape up any caramelised bits from the base of the pan, and simmer for three minutes or so, until reduced by about half. Add the stock and bring to a brisk simmer.

6. Take the tray of roast veg from the oven. Stir in the part-cooked rice then add the cherry tomatoes. Use tongs to place the browned chicken pieces on top, skin side up. Pour the hot stock around the chicken – it should just about cover the rice. Cover with foil and return to the oven for 30 minutes. Take off the foil, give the rice a gentle stir and finish in the oven for a final 15 minutes, or until everything is bubbling nicely and the chicken is cooked through.

7. Dish up the chicken, rice and veg with any juices from the tray spooned over. This is pretty much a complete dish, but some steamed greens, such as purple sprouting broccoli, cavolo nero or shredded Savoy cabbage, will go well with it.

Squeak and bubble

Jazz up leftovers with a new take on bubble and squeak

(Simon Wheeler/PA)

“Good old bubble and squeak is a much-loved dish in my house. Rather than one ingredient being ‘bubble’ and one ‘squeak’, the name is thought to refer to the sounds emanating from the frying pan as the dish is cooking,” says Fearnley-Whittingstall.

“Nevertheless, I thought I’d reverse the title, to acknowledge that I’ve tipped the balance in this recipe towards greens rather than spuds. As so often, a handful of frozen peas can make up any shortfall of green goodness. A fried egg goes very nicely on top too…”

Serves: 2-3


1 tbsp olive or vegetable oil (or lard or beef dripping)

1 large onion, thinly sliced

1-2 garlic cloves, chopped (optional)

About 150-200g cooked potatoes or cold mash (you can also use a mixture of roots such as spuds and celeriac or parsnips), ideally still skin-on

Sea salt and black pepper

Veg and flavourings:

Flavour bombs (optional): 1-2 tsp curry paste or powder, or sliced olives, capers and/or chopped anchovies

Cooked greens: About 150-250g cooked kale, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and/or broccoli, roughly chopped or shredded

Uncooked greens: A handful of raw spinach, rocket or lettuce and/or 100g frozen peas

Herbs (optional): 1-2 tbsp chopped parsley, chives or chervil, or a tiny bit of lovage

To serve (optional): 2-3 fried eggs


1. Heat the oil or other fat in a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. Add the onion with a pinch of salt and some pepper and fry gently for about 10 minutes until it starts to colour. If you’re adding garlic and/or curry paste/powder, stir them into the onions now and cook for a minute or two.

2. Tip the spuds into the pan. If they aren’t already mashed, crush them roughly with a fork or masher, but keep the texture quite chunky. Let the heat penetrate the potatoes for a minute or two then add all the other veg, and any herbs or flavour bombs, with a little more seasoning. Stir together then press the whole lot down into a rough cake.

3. Now leave the veg cake to cook for several minutes, so that it can form a good golden-brown crust on the base. It’s tempting to move it but try not to: it’s better that the base is a little overbrowned than that the whole thing is underdone and sticks to the pan. (It still might stick a bit, but you should get some really good colour this way.)

4. When the cake is nicely browned underneath, flip it over with a spatula and cook the other side. (If you are scaling up quantities, and making a larger cake – one that pretty much fills the pan – you can cut it into halves or quarters when the first side is crisped, and flip over each half or quarter, one at a time.) Start to finish, your S and B might take 20 minutes or more.

5. Serve hot, topped with a fried egg if you like. Mustard or chilli sauce are also very good on the side.

Hot chocolate pudding

Made with store cupboard ingredients, this simple dessert will satisfy any sweet tooth

(Simon Wheeler/PA)

“This quick (and utterly delicious) chocolate pud, which I’ve been making for years to delight my family, occupies a space somewhere between a brownie, a soufflé and a cake. I think you’ll agree that’s not a bad place to be,” says Fearnley-Whittingstall.

“It can be whipped up easily (and on demand) from store-cupboard ingredients. Briefly baked until set on the outside but still gooey in the middle, it is excellent served with some fruit to cut the richness.”

Serves: 4


100g dark chocolate, broken into pieces

100g butter, cut into pieces, plus extra to grease the dish

3 medium eggs

50g soft light brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

75g ground almonds

A pinch of salt

To serve:

Raspberries or other berries, or plum compote

Yoghurt or cream (optional)


1. Put the chocolate and butter into a saucepan and melt gently over a very low heat, watching all the time and stirring often so that the chocolate doesn’t get too hot. Set aside to cool a little. Preheat the oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5 and butter a small oven dish.

2. In a large bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the eggs, brown sugar and vanilla extract together until pale, thick and mousse-like. Using a stand mixer or hand-held electric whisk on full speed, this should only take a few minutes, but whisking by hand with a rotary or balloon whisk will take a lot longer! The mix should be significantly paler, thicker and increased in volume.

3. Turn the mixer down to a low speed and, with the motor running, slowly pour in the tepid melted chocolate and butter mixture (or whisk it gently by hand). Use a rubber spatula to scrape the last drops of chocolate into the mix, and then to fold the mixture fully together.

4. Combine the ground almonds and salt. Add to the chocolate mixture and fold in carefully, using the spatula.

5. Turn the mixture into the prepared oven dish and shake the dish a little to spread it out. Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes until the pudding is set on top and firm at the edges, but still wobbly and gooey in the middle.

6. Serve straight away, with fresh raspberries or plum compote, and a spoonful of yoghurt or a trickle of cream if you like.

River Cottage Good Comfort by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is published by Bloomsbury, priced £27. Photography by Simon Wheeler. Available now.


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