Hearty food for a chilly night
I use canned beans, rinsed of their brine, for this quick weekday dinner, but you could use home-cooked dried beans instead if you are cooking at a more leisurely pace.
Using a heavy knife, cut 2 bone-in chicken breasts in half then season them with salt and black pepper. Warm a little olive oil in a sauté pan, add the chicken and let it brown on both sides. Drain a couple of 400g cans of haricot beans and add them to the pan together with 8 little sprigs of thyme, 500ml of chicken stock and the juice of a lemon. Bring the stock and beans to the boil then lower the heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Stir in 4 tbsp of chopped parsley, check the seasoning and serve. For 2.
Keep the heat low to moderate in order to give the chicken plenty of time to cook through to the bone. Regularly baste it with the cooking juices to keep the meat moist. Use a good quality, ready-made chicken stock. Most supermarkets and butchers have them in the chilled section.
Use other members of the bean family such as butter beans, flageolet or cannellini. Try adding tarragon to the stock instead of thyme, as it works beautifully with the chicken stock and lemon. To make a really fast version of the dish, use boned chicken breast pieces instead of bone-in breasts. You can make a similar recipe with duck breast, too, but omit the lemon and add a dash of marsala instead.
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Photo: Nigel Slater's chicken with haricot beans and lemon. Photograph: Jonathan Lovekin for the Observer