bang bang chicken!


chicken thighs are always in my freezer and a regular choice if i don’t want to have to think too much about what to cook. i love to marinade them overnight (lemon, garlic and herbs or harissa paste being two favourites) and then roast them to accompany a salad and some good bread.

however familiarity is not always a good thing so i decided to branch out this week and try nigel slater’s bang-bang,-it’s-bonfire-night-what-can-i-feed-to-the-hordes chicken with black-eyed beans casserole recipe.

we had this with chicory, feta and pomegranate salad and leftover potato bread.

chicken with black-eyed beans* (serves 4)

8 chicken thighs, seasoned with salt & pepper

250g black-eyed beans

olive oil

3 onions, cut into sixths

6 sprigs of thyme

2 bay leaves

3 cloves of garlic, sliced

1 heaped tablespoon of flour

750ml stock

for the topping:

4 handfuls of fresh white breadcrumbs (180g)

a handful of freshly grated parmesan (40g)

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

soak the beans in cold water overnight. the next day, drain them and bring them to the boil, boil hard for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to a simmer. as they continue to cook, remove the froth that comes to the surface with a draining spoon and discard. cook until they are tender yet retain their shape and some bite - a matter of 40 minutes or so. drain the beans in a colander and set aside.

preheat the oven to 180c.

heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan and cook them, in batches, for a few minutes on each side until they are pale gold (you shouldn’t need to add extra oil between batches). remove the chicken from the pan and add the onions. as they soften, add the bay leaves, thyme sprigs and garlic. when all is soft and translucent, stir in the flour and leave to colour lightly for 2 or 3 minutes before gradually stirring in the stock (make sure you scrape all the lovely sticky bits off the bottom of the pan) to make a thick, oniony, honey-coloured sauce.

tip the drained beans into the pan and mix well. tip this mixture into a large casserole dish and arrange the chicken pieces on top of this, adding any juices that have drained off them. bake in the oven for 20 minutes.**

meanwhile, mix together the topping ingredients. sprinkle these over the top of the chicken then put it back in the oven for 40 minutes until the topping is crunchy and golden and the juices are bubbling.

* adapted from nigel slater

** this is the point at which i let the dish cool down and kept it in the fridge overnight. let it come back to room temperature before heating through and add an extra 10 minutes to the cooking time.