Hearty chicken, lemon and asparagus cassoulet

This comes from the Leon cookbook and is mentioned in the context of summer, but personally I think this goes even better with autumn and winter.

It tastes healthy and wholesome but at the same time has loads of flavour and if you’re especially hungry, you could always bulk it up with some fresh bread, couscous, or even pasta.

Ingredients (serves 2, with beans and sauce left over)

  • 1 lemon
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 heaped tablespoons chopped thyme
  • some variation of the right amount of chicken – breasts, thighs, legs – which you can either keep whole or cut up into smaller pieces (which is what we did). If keeping whole, make sure the pieces still have skin on.
  • bunch asparagus
  • 1 medium onion
  • 400g tin of haricot or cannelini beans
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1/2 glass of white wine
  • 200ml – 300ml chicken stock
  • 4 tablespoons fresh breadcrumbs
  • some grated parmesan to scatter over the top when serving

Method:

  1. Leon says to marinate the chicken overnight before. I very rarely do any prep the night before an evening meal, but if you have time, or when you do start your prep, mix up the chicken with the lemon juice, zest, half the garlic, 2 tbsp olive oil, the thyme and lots of black pepper. Leave to marinate.
  2. Chop any woody ends of the asparagus – and save two spears for garnish if you have enough.
  3. Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the chicken, skin side down. Once it’s cooked and golden, take the chicken out and rest skin side up for a couple of minutes.
  4. Add the onion into the empty pan and stir for a minute or two. Then add the marinade and remaining garlic and cook for another coupe of minutes, before adding in the drained beans and bay leaves. Give them a quick stir, then add the wine.
  5. Leave this to cook until it’s reduced by half. Preheat the oven to 200C/Gas Mark 7.
  6. Then take off the heat and add the asparagus and season heavily.
  7. Tip the mixture into an overproof dish, then add the chicken in, skin side up, pressing into the beans. Pour in the stock to the point where you just see it below the beans.
  8. Scatter the breadcrumbs all over the beans (but not the chicken), then lay the last two asparagus spears on top of the breasts and drizzle the whole dish with olive oil.
  9. Bake for around 30 minutes until you can see golden breadcrumbs and the edges are bubbling. Serve with lemon on the side and/or parmesan over the top.

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