I quite often simply boil up a chicken. It gives us a delicious stock to use for something in the following days, and cooks a chicken safely without drying it out. For this recipe though the whole dish is cooked in the pot alongside that simmering chicken – so its very easy on the washing up later!
If you aren’t “watching your weight” I suggest you brown the chicken first in plenty of olive oil. But if you are trying to lose a few pounds skip that step and I promise it will still taste divine…
As usual you can mix and match pretty easily with this flexible dinner. Have a scout in the fridge and see what needs using, and still looks good. The ingredients list here includes the items we tend to include:
- One whole chicken – quartered if you are going to fry it first – if not leave it whole.
- A little olive oil and lots of black pepper.
- One large onion finely sliced.
- 2 cloves of garlic minced.
- 1 red and 1 green pepper chopped.
- 2 carrots chopped.
- 1 stick of celery sliced thinly.
- A few bay leaves and a few sprigs of woody herbs (thyme, oregano etc).
- Two cups of cooked borlotti, haricot or butter beans.
- 1 tin of tomatoes chopped.
- 1 tablespoon of capers – copped and a few tablespoons of good quality black olives.
- Bunch of parsley and /or cilantro finely chopped.
Some green beans, shredded cabbage or broccoli florets would all work well popped in about 10 minutes before serving. Fresh spinach thrown in at the last minute too always adds some extra vitamins and texture.
Okay, so if you’re not going down the diet root, brown the chicken off in plenty of olive oil (and perhaps some butter) first. But for us slow carbers here’s the real recipe:
- Fry the onion, garlic, celery, carrots and fresh peppers slowly in a drop of oil (I put the lid on to let this lot steam more than fry when I’m being very strict).
- Add the chicken, woody herbs, bay leaves and enough water to nearly cover the chicken. Bring to a slow simmer.
- Pop the lid on (it needs to be a tight fitting lid) and simmer slowly for about 3/4 of an hour. You could do this in a low oven and cook for a little longer if you prefer, but I find it easiest to prepare on the stove top.
- Add the tin of tomatoes, cooked beans, olives and capers and bring back to a slow simmer for another 30 minutes.
- By now the chicken should be obviously cooked and falling off the bone. Time to fish it out and start shredding the meat from the carcass. Remove the skin if you’re preparing the diet version. If not you could fry the chicken again to create crispy skin and serve the chicken on top of the bean casserole. If you are dieting, just pull the meat into large chunks discarding the skin and bones, and drop the meat back into the pot.
- If you want to add more green vegetables to the bean stew, do it whilst you’re preparing the cooked chicken meat.
- Once you’re ready to serve stir in the fresh herbs and enjoy!
Of course you could do something similar with boneless chicken, or packaged chicken thighs etc. You’ll need to cook for far less time and watch the meat like a hawk (if its boneless) to ensure it doesn’t dry out. Using a whole bird means you get a lot more flavor in the resulting stock, and the meat is far more forgiving of being cooked for longer.
North African Variation
If you want something a little more akin to a Chicken Tagine its simple. Just add some cumin seeds, dried chilli flakesand coriander seeds at stage one. Use chick peas rather than beans, and throw in a few preserved lemons at the same time. Finish up with a spoon or too of good quality harissa. Be careful though anything with harissa seems to be totally addictive which isn’t so great for weight loss!