Well, tonight's was the last family meal I shall have to cook for a few days; tomorrow the boys and their Dad set off for Yorkshire to visit Grandma and Grandad (and to give me a break, phew!). I'm simultaneously really looking foward to being completely independent for a few days and worrying about what on earth I'm going to do with all this time, without my babies to fill it for me. At the moment, plans haven't got much further than the vague 'sleep and clean' (though I've already mentioned my lunch date for tomorrow). I will almost certainly be enjoying some shellfish (Hubby's bête noire) for dinner at some point and hope to have a good 'booty trawl' around the local charity shops. I love charity shops, anything of that kind, and some of my favourite things are second-hand or vintage. Top of the pops at the moment are a 1970s brown felt hat from eBay and a gorgeously gaudy flower-power-patterned glass jug from the Barnado's shop.
This chicken and beans 'thing' was a half-formed idea that came together very well as I cooked it. A simple one-pot dinner is always good for a family; fewer pots to wash (and therefore fewer to argue about?). I did have a bottle of wine open, but I keep a bottle of vermouth, for little bits like this, by the stove as (1) it's a screw-top bottle and not all the wine I like is, and (2) I don't drink much vermouth (you only need a whisper in a Martini) so I can rely on always having some. Hubby doesn't like it at all, so he doesn't nip into the bottle as he is wont to do with other thing.
Chicken and Bean Casserole
1 onion, haved and sliced
4 rashers of bacon, chopped
2 x 400g cans mixed beans, or your choice of pulses
6-8 chicken pieces (thighs and drumsticks)
4 bay leaves
75ml vermouth or white wine
300ml chicken stock, hot
Gently fry the onion with the bacon in a lidded casserole until softened. Add the drained and rinsed pulses to the pan, then tuck in the bay leaves. Lay the chicken pieces on top and season to your own taste. Pour the vermouth or wine into the pan, letting it boil briefly before adding enough hot chicken stock to come about halfway up the chicken. Cover the pan and transfer it to a 180°c oven for 30 minutes. Uncover the pan and cook for a further 10 minutes to crisp the skin of the chicken.