Comfort food: Chicken and mushroom casserole with celeriac mash

Lilly Higgins: I love texture in a dish so mashes play a perfect role

I love dinners that can be made in advance and simply warmed up minutes before serving. It’s the ultimate luxury to me. Having home cooked food in minutes with none of the washing up to deal with.

In an ideal world I would cook a few dinners at once on some Saturday morning when I’m exceptionally organised and have plenty of fresh produce and ideas swirling round in my head. This recipe would be one such gem. But usually it’s a last minute desperate hunt at the back of the fridge for “something that I can serve with lentils” or some fresh vegetable that will be the star of the plate.

Herbs are always a massive help and can elevate the dreariest of dishes into a fresh and delicious meal. I try to have each meal balanced with a protein, carbohydrate and plenty in between. My carbohydrates usually form a base like lentils, pasta, rice or beans. Potatoes of all varieties too of course. I love a good mash. So much so that when I served this week’s recipe up to my kids and referred to it as “Mash” they asked “Mashed what?”. They know I have a tendency to place butter beans in the blender with roast garlic and to puree cauliflower with coconut milk and a touch of ginger.

Mashes are comforting, bringing us back to nursery food where we could just savour the flavour of the warm food as we spooned it in and didn’t have to think about chewing. I love texture in a dish so mashes play a perfect role. Crispy fried chorizo atop smooth cumin mashed sweet potato is amazing. Having said all that this casserole is perfect with rice and pasta too.





900g chicken thighs (6 thigh pieces)

Juice of 2 lemons

3 cloves garlic, bruised

250g mushrooms, sliced

500ml stock

Sea salt

200g frozen peas

3 tbsp dill, finely chopped

2 celeriac



Preheat the oven to 180C.

Heat a heavy based frying pan.

Remove any excess skin from the chicken pieces. Place each piece of chicken, skin side down, on the dry pan. Leave to sizzle and sear until they have turned lightly golden. Place the chicken in an oven-proof lidded pot or casserole dish. Pour some of the 500ml water into the frying pan to deglaze. Add this and the remaining water to the pot along with a generous seasoning of salt and black pepper. Add the juice of 2 lemons and 3 bruised garlic cloves. Place the lid on the pot and cook in the oven for an hour and a half. You can check it half way through. After the full 90 minutes the chicken should be ready to fall off the bone. Remove the chicken pieces and leave on a plate till cool enough to handle.  Take all of the meat from the bones and return to the pot. Add the frozen peas and a 2 tbsp dill. Taste the sauce for seasoning. Replace the lid and put back in the oven to cook the peas, a further two minutes should do.

If you’re preparing this ahead then add the peas and dill when you are reheating the casserole.

For the celeriac mash remove the tough outer skin using a heavy sharp knife. Dice the celeriac and place in a large pan with enough water to cover. Season with a little salt and simmer for 12-15 minutes till done. Drain very well in a colander. The celeriac tends to absorb a lot of water. Blitz the celeriac with a large tablespoon of butter till smooth and creamy. Serve with the chicken casserole in bowls with some fresh dill on top.