Monday, 6 September 2010

Mum's Chicken Casserole

I dreamt about mum last night. We were in the gardens of a big old house with a man driving a digger in it. There were lots of people about, workmen and the immediate family. I'm sure that it was meant to be our house. It was one of those black and white ones with Tudor beams, like in Stratford-upon-Avon. Mum took me to one side to talk about something. She was worried, and I was trying to reassure her. I don't think she wanted me to change the house. I wonder what Bachelard would have made of it?

Maybe it's because we were watching a lovely documentary last night about Timothy Spall and his wife sailing in their Dutch barge called Matilda. I just found the blog of their journeys, you can link to them here if you like and watch a preview of the program which is the first in a series of three here. It's called Somewhere at Sea. They don't look or sound like mum and dad, but they reminded me of them. It made me think of this picture of mum on Solveig, she's coming out of the galley wearing her apron. It's a bit dark, but it's one of my favourite ones of her. How I always think of her. When I think of food, and the boat, I always think of chicken. Oh and Smash instant mashed potatoes! Well the kitchen was tiny.

On the boat, mum would usually roast chicken in the tiny oven, but at home she used to make the most amazing chicken casserole. I tried to recreate it on Friday before H returned to London. It's ages since I've made a casserole.

Mum would have used simple root vegetables, onions and carrots, maybe some celery too. So I friend onions in olive oil until they were nice and caramelised. Jointed a chicken and then browned the portions. Added some chopped celery and continued sauteing before adding sliced carrots, sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and a couple of bay leaves, then topping up with some boiling water. Just very simple ingredients. I then cooked it until the carrots were tender and the meat beginning to drop off the bone, but not dry. I used a tiny bit of cornflour mixed with cold water to slightly thicken the gravy. Alternately I could have coated the chicken portions with flour before browning, this would have given a similar effect. It's amazing how those simple ingredients worked so well together. Served with mashed potatoes this is real old English comfort food. I have to admit a penchant for grainy Dijon mustard in my mash though....much to everyone else's horror. It's yummy with softened garlic cloves mashed in, too.

Amazingly considering everyone's love of spicy food it went down a storm.

I also discovered a new dressing that you can find here it's fantastic with baby beetroot and carrots sliced and then roasted in the oven. It consists of walnuts, cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, walnut oil and groundnut oil. I'm always glad to find a nice alternative to my usual French Dressing and this really works with roasted root vegetables.


  1. I am pleased to meet you Debbie..both writing about dreams. Your art is wonderful. I loved the Carrington et al.. you've taught me something new already. I only knew of Dora Carrington. How wonderful thie other Carrington is. Thank you.

  2. It's lovely to meet you too, Joan, it was a happy serendipity.

    Thanks for your comments. Leonora was new to me. What an amazing women she is.

  3. Lovely family ruminations as always. That was weird about the dream wasn't it? Having just re-stumped our own house I can now understand people's anxieties about 'hurting' their house.

  4. Thanks Caz.

    I wondered how your house project was getting sounds a big one....It'll be amazing when it's all completed.....but a bit scary when you see the cracks appearing.....