When I was a kid, our neighbour used to invite us in for lunch occasionally and she would serve us chicken supreme with butter beans – which was basically a can of Marks and Spencer's chicken in white sauce; I think she used to just throw in a can of butter beans too! I remembered it the other day and thought I would give it a bit of a makeover.
150g good-quality butter beans, soaked overnight in plenty of cold water
½tsp bicarbonate of soda
8 large or 12 medium free-range chicken thighs, skinned and boned
1.5ltrs chicken stock
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 stick of celery, peeled if stringy and finely chopped
1 small bayleaf
A couple of sprigs of thyme
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
50g plain flour
3-4tbsp double cream
3tbsp chopped parsley
Rinse the butter beans and transfer them to a saucepan with the bicarbonate of soda and a couple of teaspoons of salt. Cover well with water, bring to the boil and simmer gently with a lid on for about an hour, or until they are tender.
Put the chicken thighs in a saucepan with the stock, onions, celery, bayleaf and thyme, season, bring to the boil; then simmer very gently for 1 hour, skimming every so often. Remove the thighs and put to one side.
Melt the butter in a small saucepan, stir in the flour and stir on the heat for 30 seconds. Whisk the flour mixture into the stock and continue simmering gently for about 10 minutes, or until the sauce thickens.
Cut the chicken thighs into 4, then add to the sauce with the butter beans and continue simmering for about 5 minutes until the sauce just coats the chicken and beans. Add the cream and parsley and season to taste.