A chicken stew fit for an Irish summer

The holy trinity of chicken, tarragon and garlic is ideal for sadly chilly weather

Chicken, tarragon and butter bean stew

Chicken, tarragon and butter bean stew

 

It feels quite surreal to be rustling up stews at this time of year, but the weather demands it. There’s nothing nicer than a comforting, hearty broth when it’s chilly out.

Still, I’ve made this stew as summery as possible, with bright sweet peas and fresh, pungent tarragon. Chicken and tarragon have long been a great match, and the holy trinity becomes complete once you add plenty of garlic.

My adoration of garlic has brought some criticism in the past and even resulted in a letter of complaint, but that’s as controversial as I get. As always, feel free to adapt to suit your taste. I suggest three cloves of garlic here, which I believe to be the perfect amount to balance the bland beans – but use two, or none, if you prefer. Delicate French tarragon is not always easy to find, so snap it up whenever you see it. This time of year it grows well outside, or of course in a polytunnel, so it’s worth having a plant or two.

Beans and pulses are better value dried and often taste better, too. The soaking and cooking time can be off-putting. Often they require overnight soaking, with a good 40-60 minutes needed for cooking.

Irish brand Bunalun now does a range of organic dried pulses. They are high quality and cheaper than the organic, tinned versions. I’m finally starting to use them just by planning the night before what I’m going to cook and soaking the beans or chickpeas.

Home-cooked chickpeas make incredibly smooth hummus. I usually soak and cook double what I need, then freeze the remainder, or use them for salads. It feels like a good habit to get into and makes me plan meals more efficiently.

I follow Stop Food Waste on Instagram and Twitter and am being inspired by their innovative ideas on how to shop, cook and compost in a more mindful way. It’s estimated that a third of all food produced for human consumption is wasted. It’s not just a waste of food but also a waste of resources that are used to produce and then dispose of all of that food. See stopfoodwaste.ie for more details.

I’m using leftover chicken for this dish. Any family that doesn’t polish off an entire roast chicken for Sunday lunch will always have great leftovers and I love adding mine to a risotto or stew like this. The carcass is then used for stock.

 CHICKEN, TARRAGON AND BUTTER BEAN STEW

Serves 2

Ingredients
1tbs butter
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
400g butter beans, cooked
150g cooked chicken, sliced
600ml chicken stock
150g frozen peas
2tbs tarragon or parsley
2 spring onions, finely sliced

To serve
Crusty bread
Parmesan
Green salad

Method
1. Melt the butter in a heavy-based pan, add the garlic and turn the heat down low. Cook for a few minutes to warm through but don’t let the garlic colour or fry too much. You just want to remove any raw flavour from it.

2. Add the butter beans and stir well to coat. Add the chicken and stock, then season with salt and pepper.

3. Leave to simmer on a low heat for 20-30 minutes, until the stock has reduced and become starchy and thick. Taste for seasoning, adding more salt if necessary.

4. Fold through the peas. Simmer for a further minute before removing from the heat. Fold through the tarragon and spring onion. Ladle into bowls and serve with crusty bread.

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