Recipes from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s new book River Cottage Good Comfort – best-loved favourites made better for you’
This classically comforting rice and fish dish – traditionally enjoyed for breakfast or brunch but also a lovely supper – has always been a big F-W family favourite. I’ve evolved the recipe over the years, replacing white rice with brown basmati, upping the spice a little, and incorporating peas (and sometimes lentils). This version is, I dare to claim, ‘best ever’ – both for taste and goodness. If you are wavering about the raisins I urge you to give them a try.
– 175g brown basmati rice
– 1 tbsp olive or vegetable oil
– 1 large onion, finely sliced
– 4 medium eggs
– 500g sustainably caught smoked pollack or haddock fillet
– 150g frozen peas or petits pois
– 100g cavolo nero, stalks removed and leaves shredded (optional)
– A knob of butter (about 15g)
– 1 tbsp mild curry powder or paste
– ½–1 small red chilli, finely chopped (deseeded for less heat if you prefer)
– 25g raisins (optional)
– 100g cooked brown, green orPuy lentils, or drained, tinned lentils (optional)
– 2 tbsp chopped coriander or parsley
– 1 tbsp chopped lovage (optional)
– Sea salt and black pepper
– Lemon wedges, to serve
Rinse the brown rice well and leave it to soak in cold water for at least 15 minutes, or up to 2 hours.
Drain the rice, rinse it again, then transfer to a large pan (it needs to be large because you’ll be mixing all the other kedgeree ingredients into this before serving).
Cover the rice with plenty of cold water, bring to a simmer, cover and cook for the time suggested on the packet, minus 5 minutes (soaking reduces the cooking time).
While the rice is cooking, heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the sliced onion with a pinch of salt and get everything sizzling, then put the lid on the pan and reduce the heat. Let the onion sweat gently for 12–15 minutes, until nicely soft and golden.
This is also a good time to cook the eggs: bring a small saucepan of water to the boil, carefully lower the eggs into the pan and simmer for 7–8 minutes.
Meanwhile, slice the smoked fish off its skin and then cut it into 2–3cm chunks; set aside.
Once cooked, lift the eggs out of the pan and run them under cold water to stop the cooking, then lightly crack and peel the shells (under a gently running cool tap).
Test the rice – it should be tender but still have a slight bite at this point. When it is, stir in the peas, and cavolo if using, bring to a simmer and cook for 4–5 minutes. Drain thoroughly and return the rice and green veg to the hot pan, drop in a knob of butter and stir lightly with a fork. Turn off the heat and cover the pan to keep the rice warm while you cook the fish with the onions. Stir the curry powder or paste into the softened onions, along with the fresh chilli, and the raisins if using, and cook for a minute or so longer.
Add the chunks of raw smoked fish to the spicy onions and cook for about 5 minutes, until just cooked through. Stir in the lentils, if using, and cook for a minute or two, to heat them through. Add the spicy fish mixture to the pan of rice and green veg, along with half the chopped herbs, and toss through gently. Taste and add more salt or pepper if needed.
Halve or quarter the warm boiled eggs and place on top of the rice. Finish with the rest of the chopped herbs and a grinding of black pepper then serve, with lemon wedges.
Hot chocolate pudding
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. 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. It’s gluten-free too.
– 175g brown basmati rice
– 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
– Raspberries or other berries, or plum compote
– Yoghurt or cream (optional)
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 190°C/170°C Fan/Gas 5 and butter a small oven dish.
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.
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.
Combine the ground almonds and salt. Add to the chocolate mixture and fold in carefully, using the spatula.
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.
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, published by Bloomsbury on 15 September 2022 (£27.00 RRP, Hardback)