Since finding cassoulet in my copy of Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking I’ve been trying to devise similar recipes which would lessen the time and cost of preparing such a cozy dish.
This rendition was the result of less than 10$ of ingredients and a couple of hours of stewing in the oven. Us working folk normally don’t have an abundance of time to devote to cooking, but stretching what you have in the pantry at this time of the month (and year) is inevitable and necessary. Weekends are the typical days where my craft can be let loose in the afternoon to bring a leisurely made meal to the family table by supper time. This dish could equally be made in a crock pot, on low while you’re away at work or running errands. I trusted a slow oven for this hearty and thrifty meal.
The measurements are not exact, for you can use more or less depending on what you have. Go easy with the herbes de Provence, or it will taste like you mistakenly added your flower bed to the stew.
- 2 slices of bacon, cut into 1/4″ slices
- 8 chicken thighs, skin and visible fat removed
- 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
- 1/2 large onion
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 can white beans (Northern Beans or Navy Beans), rinsed
- pinch or two of herbes de Provence (see note above)
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour (you can omit if gluten is a problem!)
- 2 – 3 cups chicken stock, homemade preferably, or low sodium purchased
- salt and pepper
Pre-heat the oven to 350ºF.
In a Dutch oven or equivalent roasting pan, render the bacon. Slowly fry the bacon to release the fat and remove any crisp pieces as you go. Use the bacon fat to brown the chicken thighs on each side, you don’t have to worry about cooking the chicken at this point, that will happen in the oven. What you want is a bit of color on the chicken to add flavour!
Remove the chicken as it browns, split the chicken in two batches if the pan will be too crowded. Crowds make for sweaty birds, not browned caramelized ones.
Once the chicken is out, check the pan for fat levels, add a few dots of olive oil if the pan looks dry. Immediately toss in the onion and carrot, tossing them around to coat with the oil or bacon fat. Sauté until the onions start to look tanned, as if they just came back from a sandy beach off the coast of nobodycares.
Add salt and pepper, the herbs, (flour) and the garlic. Stir until the garlic and herbs become fragrant, about 30 seconds. Then add the stock and scrape up any bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Add the beans and crispy bacon pieces. Nestle the chicken thighs into the pot, the liquid should come half way up the meat.
Cover the pot and place in the oven. Turn down the oven to 300ºF and leave it alone. After 2 hours you will enjoy a rich broth with dark chicken meat falling off the bones!
Serve alone, with cooked pearled barley (yum, this was what I made), with rice, or a slice of fresh bread (also what I had with the stew!).
This stew disappeared before I had a chance to do my photo shoot. You’ll have to imagine this one 🙂