What’s for Dinner? Navy beans and chicken
As I said, I will write more posts about everyday, ordinary meals – the dinners I pull together from the food I keep on hand. It may not be as exciting as a lovely roast beef or chocolate waffle, but it is what we eat most of the time. And if I tell you how to feed the freezer, I need to tell you how, then, to feed yourself with its contents.
So – it was an average Saturday evening. I’d finished posting my blog, talked to a friend, done some other odds and ends, looked forward to the Mets game in the evening, not worried about dinner, because I knew I had options. I’d cooked a pot of chicken legs the day before, and a pound of navy beans. I had not gotten to Greenmarket, but the supermarket did have good zucchini earlier in the week, so we had them. And I had set up brown rice in the rice cooker (which is so convenient…)
What’s for dinner?
So, about twenty minutes before dinnertime, I went into the kitchen – took out a few things. Chicken and beans, zucchini, chili garlic paste, concentrated broth from the chicken… And I put a saute pan on the stove and started heating it.
There was chicken fat on top of the broth – usually I use oil to cook, but this time I decided, for flavor, to use a dab of the chicken fat. (That’s optional, of course – and I”ll write the recipe for oil.) While it melted and heated, I washed two zucchini, and cut them in a roll cut. (May I just say that I was flattered last week to have my rather old post about that technique referred to in a Buzzfeed Staff post?) I added a little chili garlic paste to the pan, and stirred it to warm, then tossed in the pieces of zucchini, and stirred them to coat with the chicken fat and chili. Cooked them about five minutes, stirring occasionally, mostly just to brown them slightly.
Meanwhile, I cut up the chicken I wanted into bite sized pieces, so when the zucchini was partially cooked, I added that, two cups of cooked navy beans, and half a cup of the chicken broth, to moisten, Raised the heat, brought it to a simmer, lowered the heat, asked Rich to set the table… As soon as the zucchini was completely cooked, by which time everything else was heated through, I served it with the rice from the rice cooker.
We did add a touch of salt and pepper at the table. Another time, I might add some seasoning with the broth, but this time I was looking for very simple. (Another time I might saute an onion as well as the chili paste, but we were out of onions…and I didn’t need it enough to even just run across the street to get more.) We’re so used to seasoning beans, though – as they take very well to a wide range of flavors – that we forget just how good they can taste by themselves. And they, the chicken, and the zucchini all complemented each other beautifully.
So – dinner in fifteen minutes, including cutting and cooking fresh vegetables. (You might allow twenty, to give yourself time to take everything out, or take your time cutting the zucchini – or add that onion…) Everything homecooked. (well – the chili paste is in a jar…) though you could certainly use a can of beans, if you didn’t have the cooked handy.
It is all about planning for the meal, and having food on hand that I can cook or heat quickly. We have a running joke that, mid afternoon, I say “I wonder what we are eating for dinner?” In fact, I almost always know what we are eating, though I may not have yet decided how I will prepare it… This was definitely going to be navy beans and chicken. But how would I season it? Would I cook the zucchini in it, or on the side, or perhaps use frozen green beans? If I’d felt more ambitious, I might have made Creamy Tomato Soup, and then a stir fry with the meat and vegetables. But sometimes it all goes into one pot – and reminds us again how good simple food simply prepared can taste.
What's for Dinner? Navy beans and chicken
- Oil for pan
- 1/2 t chili garlic paste
- 2 zucchini
- 4 oz cooked chicken in bite sized pieces
- 2 c cooked navy or other white beans
- 1/2 c chicken broth
- Heat oil in pan, add chili garlic paste, let cook a moment over low heat.
- Roll cut zucchini, add it to pan. Stir to coat vegetables with chili paste. Saute over medium heat for five minutes, until slightly browned.
- Add chicken, beans, and broth, stirring after each addition. Heat through, and cook until zucchini is cooked to your taste, 5-10 minutes