16 February 2011

Creamy chicken and butter beans

Not the dreaded cabbage in sauce,
but very similar!
When I was considering what to include on last week’s menu list, it occurred to me that I was quite probably capable of concocting my own dish.  This was a notion that made me sit up and pay attention, as way back in the dim dark days of when I began cooking, any attempt to go “off piste” would be fairly disastrous.  I well remember a dish of turkey breast, red, green & yellow peppers and cream, which I served to my parents.  Quite apart from the fact that my Mum can’t eat peppers, it was a tad one-dimensional to say the least.  I also cringe at the memory of visiting friends in Devon and cooking for them some filled pasta (not made from scratch, of course) with cooked white cabbage and a cheese sauce.  Poor souls, they ate it diligently but never let me cook again, for which I can’t blame them.  

So, many years have passed and many a sausage has gone with them.  It is true to say that I’ve really only fairly recently (like, within the last six or seven years) taken such an intense interest in food.  I think this was largely borne by the requirement to make a very little go a long way (following on from redundancy and pregnancy) and having a child.  There’s nothing like being responsible for someone else’s health, for focusing your mind on what you’re all eating! 

Those were the days!
Having fun hunter trialling with Kellie of Whitefield,
my Highland pony
Another aspect is focus.  For years I ate, slept and breathed my horses.  They were my life and food was simply enjoyable fuel that enabled me to get up at 6am, walk the dogs, “do” the horses (feed, muck out, etc), go to work for 8-9 hours, then do it all again on the way home.  When the horses faded (regrettably, they don’t last for ever), that focus was taken up by the new baby.  In turn, as the son and heir has grown up and become more independent, I’ve obviously been looking for something to fill that gap – and food was an obvious choice.

It was an intriguing notion, to think up a tasty dish that had several dimensions and that catered for all our whims and foibles.  It’s those whims and foibles that more often than not has me tinkering around with other people’s recipes, so I was well used to substituting ingredients or changing quantities.

I didn’t have the confidence to just come right out and tell the boys that this was one of their Mum’s ideas, I talked about it as though it was another recipe I’d picked up.  At least, that way, if they hated it I didn’t have to admit it was mine!

However, lo and behold, they liked it – and everyone cleaned their plate.

There were a few adjustments required to the dish, which I’ve taken into account with the recipe below.   If you decide to have a go at it, do let me know what you think!


Ingredients :

3 x chicken breasts
3 rashers streaky bacon, diced
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, grated
1 leek, sliced
100ml white wine
1 small tin butter beans
2 tbsp sweetcorn
salt & black pepper
crème fraiche
200ml chicken stock
1 tsp tarragon, chopped

Method : 

1.  Using a deep frying pan, fry the bacon until the fat has reduced.  Remove the bacon and keep warm.

2.  Fry the chicken breasts until golden, then remove and reserve to keep warm.

3.  Fry the onion until translucent and starting to colour, then add the garlic and fry for 1-2 mins more.

4.  Add the leek and fry until softened, then add the bacon to the mix.

5.  Add the white wine and boil until reduced by half – this only takes a few minutes.

6.  Add the crème fraiche and some chicken stock to let it down a little.  Add the tarragon and season.

7.  Add the butter beans, sweetcorn and the chicken, put on the lid and simmer until the chicken is cooked – some 10-15mins depending on how big your chicken is.

8.  Check the seasoning and serve with tagliatelle.


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