Free-range chicken with runner beans
At home we prefer traditional or free range chickens. Their taste is incredible, the rearing conditions are humane and their nutritional value is higher. Even though the difference in cost might seem high, 2 large 3 kg hens with proper management, can provide at least 4-5 family meals in relation to a couple of small chickens that will provide 2.
Once our chickens are delivered from our beloved free-range farm in Ioannina, Western Greece, I set aside a whole chicken for the Sunday dinner that we will share with our friends and divide the other two into thighs, breasts and carcass with wings. The breast will become a homemade deli meat or a quick stir fry, while the carcasses will each make soups or broth and chicken pie. As for the thighs, usually they are slow roasted in the oven, as in this recipe here. Of course, for this dish, you can use a the whole chicken in portions. However, in this case, you will need to remove the breast 10 minutes before the end of cooking time so that it does not dry out.
Jointing a chicken is very easy to learn by watching one of the many videos available. It’s easy to do if you have a good, sharpened knife and a big chopping board. Nevertheless, you can always ask your butcher to do it for you.
On to the green beans and the twist of this traditional recipe. As they are baked in the oven, essentially steamed by the sauce, they remain green and crunchy. My kids seem to prefer this version to the usually overcooked, very soft, green beans that can result when using the stove top. Let the younger children help you wash them and snap them in half by hand while you trim their edges and any side fibers. Let older children help trim the beans with the knife on a cutting board.
Ideally, use an ovenproof casserole, otherwise you will need to do the first portion of the cooking on the stovetop in a large heavy bottomed pot and then empty it in a lidded baking tray for the oven.
- 2 tbsps clarified butter or olive oil
- 4 free-range chicken thighs
- 1 large onion, sliced
- 3 spring onions, sliced
- 2 carrots, sliced
- 3 allspice berries
- 100 ml wine
- 50 ml red wine vinegar
- 1 kg flat green beans, trimmed
- 500 gr. grated tomato
- 200 ml water
- 1/2 a bunch of dill, finely chopped
- Salt and pepper
Heat the casserole over a high heat and season the chicken with salt and pepper. Brown the chicken thighs well with the butter on all sides and set aside. Add the onions with a little salt and cook for 5 minutes. Add the spring onions and carrots. Return the thighs to the on the bottom of the hull and pour over the wine and vinegar. Allow to evaporate, then the tomatoes and water. As soon as it boils, cover, lower the heat, let it simmer over low heat for about 20 minutes and preheat the oven to 200 C.
Layer the green beans over the chicken and season with salt and pepper. Cover, bring to the boil and place in the oven for 45 ‘. Check to see when the meat is done, remove it, stir the green beans well and place the thighs back in the casserole, but on top of the green beans this time. Cook uncovered for another 20 minutes to reduce the sauce and brown the skin of the chicken. Once browned, take out of the oven, sprinkle with finely chopped dill and serve.