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Chicken, haricot beans and lemon. Photograph: Jonathan Lovekin

12 delicious recipes from Nigel Slater’s new Kitchen Diaries

Chicken, haricot beans and lemon

For 2
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,The Garudian reports.

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.

★ 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 readymade 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.

Enough for 2
carrots, spring onions, cloves, ground coriander, brown basmati rice, vegetable stock, cashews, nigella seeds, garam masala

Scrub and finely dice 2 medium carrots. Warm a slice of butter and a little oil in a frying pan, then add a couple of roughly chopped spring onions and the diced carrots. Let the carrots and spring onions colour lightly, then add 3 whole cloves and a teaspoon of ground coriander.

Add 200g of brown basmati rice and 500ml of vegetable stock, bring to the boil, season generously with salt, then cover tightly with a lid and turn down the heat so the rice simmers gently.

Cook for 15-20 minutes, until the rice is almost tender. Leave to settle, still covered with a lid, for 10 minutes. Toast a couple of handfuls of cashews in a dry pan until lightly brown, then set aside. Remove the lid from the rice, add 2 teaspoons of nigella seeds, a teaspoon of garam masala, a thick slice of butter and the cashews. Fork the butter, nuts and spices through the mixture, stirring well, then serve.

★ I always wash my rice three times in a bowl of warm water, swishing it round with my fingers. This removes any surface starch and helps to keep the rice separate. Partly necessity and partly ritual, it is probably only truly necessary to do this once, but I have always done it three times and my rice never sticks. It’s best cooked with a tight lid and is done when deep holes appear on the surface. Peep occasionally to check.

You could use parsnips instead of carrots, but cook them a little longer before adding the rice, so the roots are caramelised. Use white rice, cooking it for a shorter time. It will take about 12 minutes, depending on the rice and how soft you like it. I have used soft spicing here, but for a hotter mix use ground chilli, cumin and paprika.

Put half a litre of water on to boil in a deep, high-sided pan. As it boils, rain in 125g of fine, quick-cooking polenta. Season very generously with salt and bring to the boil.

As it thickens, pour in 75ml of warmed double cream and 50g of butter. Grate 35g of parmesan and stir it into the cooking polenta. Have ready about 180g of washed winter greens, such as kale, beetroot leaves or thin-stemmed chard. Tear or slice these into manageable lengths.

Steam the greens for a minute or two. Drain carefully, then serve with the polenta and more grated parmesan.

★ As polenta cooks, it bubbles up like a volcano. Take great care, as the splashes will scald you. Keep the heat moderate and stir regularly with a wooden spoon, taking care to stir right into the corners of the pan. It is worth remembering that the longer you cook your polenta the firmer it will get.

The texture of polenta is a personal thing, and I like mine soft, verging on the soupy; others prefer it to have more of a cakey consistency.

The above ratio of polenta to water makes a stiffish one. Add more cream, butter or even hot water, as you wish, to make it softer. Chop and change the greens with whatever you have available or what is in season: broccoli is wonderful with polenta, as is cavolo nero.

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