Sunday, 18 September 2011

Mexican-style chicken and black beans

I have leftover chicken in my fridge and I'm slowly working my way through it. The leftover breast meat went into a sandwich for lunch two days ago. Then last night, being pretty much out of fresh food of any sort, I had a quick rummage to see what might go with the chicken.

A red pepper, a bunch of spring onions, some tomatoes and a few sprigs of coriander were all the veg I owned, apart from a butternut squash, which I have other plans for. Peering into the depths of my larder I spied a small carton of black beans and an idea formed.

I'd originally bought the beans to make quesadilla with, but the only recipe I have for that is for 6 people. Six! But still, with tomatoes and coriander to hand, Mexican seemed the way to go. This makes a generous bowlful.

What you need:
A small bunch of spring onions, trimmed and sliced
A small red pepper, deseeded and cut into strips
Two tomatoes, quartered (or use a dozen baby plum tomatoes)
1 fresh chilli, deseeded and sliced, or a teaspoon of chilli paste from a jar
A small tin or carton black beans in water
1/2 teaspoon of smoked paprika
1 tsp dried coriander
A handful of cooked chicken, cut into chunks or strips
A few sprigs of fresh coriander, chopped

What to do:
Rinse the beans well in a sieve under a running cold tap and leave to drain. Heat some vegetable oil in a heavy sauteuse over a high heat and quickly fry the onions, peppers and fresh chilli, if using, for a few minutes. Turn the heat down a little and add the tomatoes, then fry for a few minutes more. Add the spices and the chilli paste, if using instead of fresh chilli, plus the black beans. If it looks very dry, pour in a little water then put a lid on, turn the heat down low and leave to cook for about 15 minutes until the tomatoes have completely softened. Tip in the chicken, stir through and cook for another 5 minutes until the chicken is thoroughly heated through. Season to taste then serve sprinkled with the coriander.

Cook's tips:
Chilli paste is one of those things I keep in my larder for emergencies as it's an excellent substitute for fresh chillis. You can also add heat with a chilli-flavoured vegetable oil, but I recommend tasting before you add the chilli paste in that case.

The black beans are pretty much an essential, along with the coriander, if you want to keep it Mexican style. You could use any kind of beans, though - with a brown onion instead of the spring onions and a crushed clove or two of garlic, you'll end up with a dish equally tasty but more Mediterranean in tone.