Chicken Stew with White Beans and Sausage

Chicken Stew with White Beans and SausageI’ve never been the bean person I have wanted to be. A big pot of savory beans just always sounds good. Whether it’s at the farmer’s market or in the store, every time I see those clear bags with all sorts of pretty dried beans, I think to myself, “I’ve GOT to have those!” But then I get them home and they sit in my pantry. The good news is they don’t go bad…they just get dusty.

Now that the weather is turning, I have been trying to force myself to do more with beans. Schedule constraints have required that I occasionally use canned beans, but I have also tried to go old school and soak ’em. I have found the best way to cook up something tasty using dried beans is in the crockpot. Throw ’em in, turn it on, and walk away. Come back a few hours later and you have a fabulous One Pot Meal all ready to go for dinner. My kind of awesome.

The recipe below is a good one to try when you want something warm and satisfying after a long day. It takes a little bit more prep work with the browning but it’s worth it. In the meantime, I am still on the hunt for more “cooking with beans” type recipes to try. So look for the “greatest hits” in the coming weeks…

Chicken Stew with White Beans and Sausage
Recipe adapted from of Slow Cooker Revolution
From America’s Test Kitchen
Serves 6 to 8

This Chicken Stew with White Beans and Sausage is inspired by a classic Tuscan white bean stew—we added sausage. Browing the chicken, sausage, and aromatics makes for a richer, deeper flavor. The abundance of spinach wilts down substantially.
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pound Italian sausage links, sliced 1/2 Inch thick
2 onions, minced
1 fennel bulb (about 12 ounces), tops discarded, halved, cored, and sliced thin
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dry white wine
4 cups chicken stock, plus extra as needed (we like Kitchen Basics)
2 bay leaves
2 (15-ounce) cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
6 ounces baby spinach (about 6 cups)
Grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

Prepare the chicken
Dry the chicken with paper towels, and season with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Brown half of the chicken lightly on both sides (about  8 minutes) Transfer the chicken to a bowl. Repeat with more 1 tablespoon of oil and the remaining chicken.

Prepare the sausage and vegetables
Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat until it is just smoking. Brown the sausage well (about 3 minutes), and transfer it to the bowl with the chicken. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat that remains in the pan, add the onions, fennel, garlic, tomato paste, thyme, and red pepper flakes, and cook over medium-high heat until vegetables are softened and lightly browned (about 8 to 10 minutes).

Make the sauce
Carefully stir flour into the pot, and cook for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in wine, scraping up any browned bits. Whisk in 1 cup stock, smoothing out any lumps; transfer to slow cooker. Stir remaining 3 cups broth and bay leaves into slow cooker.

Cook the chicken
Nestle the browned chicken and sausage with any juices into slow cooker. Cover and cook on low until chicken is tender (about 4 to 6 hours).

Make the stew
Transfer the chicken to a cutting board, and let it cool slightly, then shred the chicken into bite-size pieces (see page 21). Let the stew settle for 5 minutes, then remove any fat from the surface using large spoon. Discard the bay leaves.

Stir in the beans and spinach, cover, and cook on high until heated through (about 10 minutes). Stir in shredded chicken and let sit until heated through (about 5 minutes). Adjust the consistency of the stew with hot broth if needed.

Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve with Parmesan on the side.

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