Quick Meals: French Beans and Chicken

I love French beans. They're one of my comfort foods. I also love how quickly they can go from ref to table to hungry mouths.

This French beans and chicken recipe is a pretty flexible one. You can use pork, ground meat--even no meat. You can also change the seasoning to whatever strikes your fancy (or usually whatever you have on hand). I also love adding almond slivers to this, when I have some. And best thing--I can get this on the table in about 30 minutes. Less if the kids help.

One of the easiest, most flexible dishes I cook, loved by the entire HP family

What you'll need

  • 500g French beans, snapped and destringed (if needed)
  • 250g cubed chicken breast
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced--more if you love garlic like I do
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar (or more, depending on your taste)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • olive oil (or any other cooking oil)

What to do

  1. Heat up a large flat-bottomed pan, and add a swig or two of olive oil, or any cooking oil, actually.
  2. Saute the garlic. You have to watch it closely. You want them to be on the verge of turning golden brown, and crunching up, but you don't want to burn them. When your oil is hot and your garlic pieces small, this can happen quite quickly.
  3. Add the cubes of chicken. Toss them around so they get coated in yummy, glorious bits of golden (not burned!) garlic. Then allow the chicken cubes to lightly brown on all sides (should we say "tan the chicken"? makes me think of chickens in bikinis!).
  4. Turn up the heat and add the French beans. Toss them around so that no bean stays at the bottom of the pan for long. Give each bean a chance to experience being on top, so they feel that they have achieved something before they get eaten! No, really. Bottom-dwelling beans tend to get overcooked. Keep tossing the beans until they turn a brighter green.
  5. Lower the heat, then add the balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Toss everything a bit more, then turn off the heat and serve.

Some notes

  • The fancier way to cook this would be to lightly brown (tan!) the chicken cubes first. Then take them out of the pan, and saute the garlic in the same oil, add back the chicken, and go on as planned. Takes longer, but you'd be less likely to burn the garlic this way.
  • You can substitute ground meat for the chicken, or even pork cubes. If you're going the pork cubes way, I'd advice you to brown the meat first.
  • Lemon is another glorious thing you can add to the beans, in case you don't have balsamic vinegar.
  • You could also add butter, with or without the lemon.
  • And almond slivers! I'd like to try cashew too. Some day.
  • Don't overcook the beans! One of the joys of French beans is that delicious crunch as you bite into and chew them. Once they've turned bright green, you don't have much time before they start turning soggy, so don't keep them on the heat for long.
  • Adding a little brown sugar can also round out the flavor, just half a teaspoon or so for starters. Don't add too much! You don't want the dish sweet. Unless you actually do. Oh well.

Depending on how hungry we are, this can feed us four HPs for two meals. Or maybe four for a meal, and two for another meal. Or if people are really, really hungry, then it's just good for one meal. Sometimes I want to eat it all by myself.


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