The online magazine
dedicated to the
discussion & revival
of British foodways.

NO.55
WINTER2017

Weeknight chicken with butter beans, a recipe derived from Nigel Slater.

As discussed in the critical, the original recipe from Slater is not quite good but holds a lot of promise. We fulfill the promise here with a recipe for two.


  • butter_bean_16x9.jpga Tablespoon olive oil, goose or duck fat, or lard
  • scant ½ cup diced cured pork; it may be bacon whether smoked or not, guanciale, pancetta, pickled pork, tasso, lean salt pork or the like
  • an onion sliced into the thinnest crescents
  • 2 chicken legs, each with 3 to 5 deep slashes cut through the skin
  • salt and pepper
  • about ½ cup dry vermouth or Sherry
  • a can of drained and rinsed butter beans
  • about ½ cup chicken stock
  • some Worcestershire
  • a splash of hot sauce
  • 4 or so sprigs parsley, or about a teaspoon dried thyme
  • minced parsley and chopped scallion greens to scatter

 

  1. Set your fat of choice in a heavy skillet over medium high heat and brown your choice of cured pork, then set it aside.
  2. Throw the onion into the pot and cook until limp, then add it to the reserved pork.
  3. Slide the chicken legs into the skillet and cook them until browned on both sides.
  4. Remove the chicken from the skillet, increase the heat to high and pour on the fortified: Reduce the liquid until nearly evaporated.
  5. Put the chicken, onion and pork back into the skillet; add the beans and herb of choice, stock, Worcestershire and hot sauce; then partially cover the skillet and reduce the heat to a simmer for about 20 minutes.
  6. Check the seasoning, then serve the dish with a blizzard of parsley and scallion.

Notes:

-Slater’s instruction to ‘[c]ut deep slashes through the skin” of the chicken legs is sound. The chicken cooks faster, its flavor bleeds more readily into the sauce and the skin crisps up too.

-The original recipe has no pork, onion, Worcestershire, hot sauce or scallions. It only mentions olive oil as a fat.

-The original version also calls for two cans of butter beans, more than enough for four and a diluting agent for two. It also specifies two tablespoons of olive oil, a lot more than you need--or want.

-Canned Goya beans are good.

-Slater also specifies 150 ml of vermouth (no Sherry alternative) which translates to a lot more than half a cup and, due to the reduction, results in an oversweet dish. His 350 ml of chicken stock also is excessive.

-“A pair of pork steaks or lamb chump [shoulder to Americans] lamb chops,” as Slater confides, “can be cooked in the same way…. You could embellish the dish with cream at the end of cooking, about 3 Tbsp would suffice.” As he notes, sage would be even better with pork than the rosemary or our thyme.