I have been fixated with the idea of chicken porridge for some years now, since reading an old Iranian recipe for it in a cookery book that I have not been able to locate since. My version is made by slow-cooking chicken thighs, then slow-cooking the oats in the resulting stock and juices. It’s not strictly a ten-minute meal, but does require no more than ten minutes of effort and some idle babysitting, so it sort of counts. Hearty, creamy nursery food, everyone I have given it to try has recoiled and grimaced at the name and then asked for seconds after they’ve finished …. For a vegan version, omit the chicken thigh entirely and use a vegan chicken-style stock, like Osem, stirring through a drizzle of light oil to replicate the succulence of the original recipe.
Place your chicken thigh in a nonstick pan set on a medium hob over high heat. Add the oil, and cook until the skin is crisp and the thigh is sealed all over. Transfer to a heavy-bottomed saucepan and cover with the water.
Peel and finely slice your onion and add to the pan. Peel your garlic, quarter the cloves lengthways and add those too. Measure in the herbs and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for an hour. Indulgent, I know, but essential here to extract all of the flavour and succulence that this recipe requires.
Remove the chicken thigh from the stock. Set aside the skin (see Tip) and strip the meat from the bone. It should shred finely. Set it to one side.
Measure the oats into the stock and move the pan to the smallest hob over the lowest heat. Warm through for 15 minutes, stirring continuously, as the oats swell and soften. Add a splash of water to loosen as needed.
Stir through your shredded chicken and finish with lemon juice. Season to taste with black pepper to serve.
If you have leftovers, you can store them in the fridge for 24 hours. Loosen with a splash of milk or water as it will thicken more as it cools, then once completely cold, store in the fridge in a clean, airtight container. Reheat thoroughly to serve. Not recommended for freezing.
© Jack Monroe, 2020