Quick Cassoulet-Type Thing

Quick Cassoulet

No, this isn’t cassoulet. It doesn’t have pigskin, or melting tarbais beans, or take weeks to make. It IS a delicious chicken and white bean casserole with a delightful flavor and yummy crunchy topping, however, and it does show definite cassoulet influence, plus it’s suitable for a weeknight dinner, so there you go. I was instructed firmly to make this again, to boot, and I found it quite tasty myself. While there were leftovers, this makes a lot of food, and it travels and reheats well.

Quick Cassoulet-Type Thing, adapted from Melissa d’Arabian

4 bone-in chicken thighs
1/2 lb. bacon, in lardons
1 large onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
8ish baby carrots*, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced, divided
1/2 c. dry white wine
1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 bay leaf
6-8 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 c. low sodium chicken broth
1 tomato, sliced thin
1 c. panko OR 3ish slices of stale bread, processed into crumbs
2 Tbsp. olive
salt and pepper to taste

Okay, here’s the hardest part of the recipe: cut the chicken thighs in half, bone and all. I’m fortunate enough to have a big ol’ cleaver, but it still took me a few good whacks. Dry the thigh halves and season ’em with salt and pepper. Wash your chickeny hands and preheat the oven to 350F.

Heat a big ol’ Dutch oven over medium heat with the bacon in it — yep, put the bacon in when it’s cold. It helps the fat render. When the bacon is crispy, remove it with a slotted spoon, leaving the fat in the pan. Nudge the heat up a bit and put the thighs in, skin side down. Let them cook until they’re golden brown and the skin is crispy, then flip them and cook until the other side is also golden.

Take the chicken out of the pot, too, and let that hang out on a plate (not with your bacon, because you’re probably snacking on the bacon, and that chicken is still almost raw). Add the onion, carrot, celery and 5 cloves of the garlic to the pot and cook it for about 5 minutes, until they’re soft. Deglaze with the wine, scraping up the brown bits, and reduce the wine by about half. Add in the beans, bay leaf and thyme (strip it off the sprigs first) and stir everything around so it all gets mingled and coated with delicious bacon fat and wine. Taste the bean mixture for seasoning and stir the bacon back in.

Snuggle the chicken thighs back into the pot, add the broth, pop the lid on and put it in the oven for 20 minutes or so. While it cooks, put the olive oil in a small pan over medium heat and saute the garlic clove until it starts to turn golden. Taste for seasoning. Add the breadcrumbs, mix well, and keep it moving over low heat until the crumbs are toasty. After 20 minutes, take the pot out, remove the cover, layer on the tomato slices and the breadcrumb mixture. Return it to the oven for another 15 minutes or so. Serve with a baguette for sauce-sopping!

*By and large, we are not carrot eaters. If I want to have a prayer of getting through a whole bag, I buy the baby ones — the bag is smaller, and also they are suitable for grabbing and eating by others in the household. I don’t like them, myself.

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~ by iliadawry on 19 April 2013.

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