It’s no coincidence to me that all the vegetables coming into season in May taste amazing together. All those sweet tender peas, delicate asparagus spears and buttery, waxy new potatoes are a match made in heaven.
This dish makes the most of all of these wonderful flavours of an English spring garden. For me, the holy trinity of May is the Jersey Royal potato, English asparagus and baby broad beans. I could eat combinations of these three in various guises all month, but this chicken dish wins the prize for one of my perfect Sunday suppers.
You could use any combination of vegetables for this, but I think that full on spring feeling only comes if everything is green, green, green, so aim for a pick and mix selection of peas, beans, green leaves and herbs.
Start by browning 4 chicken thighs – skin on and bone in. In a shallow casserole dish, heat a tablespoon of olive oil over a medium-high heat and then add the chicken thighs, skin side down. Fry briskly for a few minutes until the skin is golden and crisp. Set aside and drain off any excess oil that has come from the chicken skin.
Turn the heat down to low and add a chopped leek or handful of spring onions and 2 sliced cloves of garlic. Turn in the hot fat for a minute or so, until they begin to soften but not brown, then return the chicken to the pan, skin side up this time. Pour in a couple of generous glugs of white wine, around 200ml, with another 200ml of chicken stock and a little salt. Bring to a gentle simmer, pop on a lid and cook on a low heat for around 20 minutes.
Meanwhile prepare the rest of the vegetables. Scrub a couple of handfuls of new potatoes (preferably Jerseys) and slice into 1cm thick coins. Simmer in a separate pan of boiling salted water for 8-10 minutes until just tender. Drain and keep to one side.
Slice a mixture of green vegetables into chunky pieces. I used some lovely english asparagus, baby courgettes and green beans, along with a couple of handfuls of broad beans which I’d got already podded in the freezer, making it nice and easy. I think double podding broad beans is essential for this, so allow plenty of time if you are preparing them from scratch.
Once the chicken has had 20 minutes, check it to make sure it looks nearly cooked by cutting into one of the larger pieces all the way to the bone. It might need up to another 10 minutes depending on the size of the thighs. Once the chicken is sufficiently cooked, start to add the vegetables. You want to add the ones that will take the longest to cook first – the courgettes, green beans and asparagus stalks (reserve the tips for the end, as they only need a brief steam). Put the lid partly back on, to allow some of the cooking liquor to evaporate, and simmer for a few minutes. Next add the cooked potatoes and the tender peas, broad beans and asparagus tips. Allow to cook for another couple of minutes, no more or everything will start to go soft.
Check the seasoning and add more salt and ground black pepper if you would like. Sprinkle over a handful of fresh soft herbs – i used basil and parsley, but thyme and oregano would also work well.
A couple of options here. Much as I like this as it is, it is also excellent with a few tablespoons of double cream stirred through at the end. If there is a bit too much liquid in the pan at the end, sometimes I add a teaspoon of cornflour dissolved in a little water to thicken it up slightly and make it a bit more saucy.
Lovely on its own or maybe with some chunks of baguette or garlic bread to soak up the juices.
Serves 2 hungry people, probably with leftovers.
4 chicken thighs, skin on and bone in
2 cloves garlic
1 small leek or 5 spring onions
6 baby courgettes
a small bunch of asparagus
100g green beans
a couple of handfuls of peas or broad beans
6-10 Jersey Royal or other waxy new potatoes, depending on size
Parsley, basil or other soft herbs
200ml white wine
200ml chicken stock
Double cream (optional)