Nigel Slater Recipe
We are not here for long.
A lovingly kneaded loaf; a casserole of beef, garlic, thyme, stock and onions you have left to its own devices in a slow oven; a salad that crunches and crackles with young, spring leaves and sprouted seeds. A sandwich maybe,
I have been cooking, on an almost daily basis, for five decades. I have eaten the great, the good and things I rather wish I hadn’t. As a cook, and indeed as a cookery writer, I have got things right, wrong and somewhere in between. But what never changes is my curiosity and my appetite. That, and the endless delight I get from giving people, loved ones, friends, complete strangers, something good to eat.
Just as with music or literature, there are the classics of which I never tire, yet the excitement of finding new works never dims. For me, it is the same with food. You know how it is. There are old favourites you make over and over, recipes that become part of the rhythm of your life, and then there is the stuff of fresh thinking, cooking that is spontaneous and spirited.
What has always mattered to me is that we enjoy not just the end result, but the hands-on craft along the way, the act of making ourselves and others a meal. Cooking has, for this cook at least, never been purely about the end result. It is the small, joyous details of cooking that have made it a lifelong pleasure.
I enjoy my work more with each passing year. And never more so than when I hear or say the words ‘What shall we have to eat?’ The point in my working day when food is no longer something on the page or the screen, but becomes something on a plate.
Between the pages of this, the third volume of my kitchen
Does the world need more recipes? I like to think so. Cooking doesn’t stand still, at least not for anyone with spirit, an appetite and a continuing sense of wonder. No one is exactly re-inventing the wheel in cookery nowadays, no matter what they might think, but there is still much fun to be had.
A cookery book can open a door to a world of delicious possibilities. As I hope this one will. Discovering a new way with a familiar ingredient; a reworking of an old friend; a twist, a turn, a whim or even just a simple reminder. The recipes are here to follow word for word or simply to spark your imagination, as you wish.
Chicken, haricot beans and lemon
chicken breasts, tinned haricot beans, thyme, chicken stock, lemon, parsley
Using a heavy knife, cut 2 bone-in chicken breasts in half and 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 tins 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 tablespoons 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.