September 9, 2008
The recent onslaught of hurricanes and tropical storms have left its mark all along the Gulf Coast and Eastern seaboard. Dark skies and heavy rains make for a perfect day for a cassoulet, a French stew made of white beans, vegetables, and meat. Just add a salad and some crusty bread, and you have yourself the perfect meal to chase away gray skies.
Chicken Cassoulet with Panko Topping (adapted from Martha Stewart)
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbs. chopped fresh rosemary
1 1/2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
6 boneless and skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of fat
19 oz. cannellini beans
3 C. chicken stock
3 carrots, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 stalks celery, cut into B-inch pieces
1 onion, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 dried bay leaf
1 tsp. coarse salt
1+ 3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1 C. panko breadcrumbs
Marinate the chicken: In a bowl large enough to hold chicken thighs, combine 2 garlic cloves, rosemary, 1/2 teaspoon thyme, and vinegar. Add chicken; toss to coat. Cover; refrigerate 1 to 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees with rack in upper third. In a large stockpot bring chicken stock with carrots, celery, onion, remaining 3 garlic cloves, bay leaf, sage, and remaining teaspoon thyme to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low until vegetables are tender, about 1 1/2 hours. In the last 5 minutes, add the drained beans.
Transfer bean mixture to a colander set over a bowl, reserving cooking liquid; let cool slightly. Puree half the mixture in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. With the motor running, pour in about 1 cup reserved cooking liquid until thick and smooth. Return to pot with remaining bean mixture. Add the salt; stir to combine.
Brush an 8-by-2 1/2-inch baking dish with 1 tablespoon the oil. Remove chicken from marinade, and arrange in a single layer in prepared dish. Bake until chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes.
Remove dish from oven; pour bean mixture over chicken. Combine the remaining olive olive with the breadcrumb, then sprinkle over the bean mixture. Set dish on a baking sheet; return to oven, and bake until breadcrumbs are golden brown and beans are bubbling, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven; serve hot.
The fresh herbs is the key to making this bean stew so savory and delicious. The kids love to dip bread into the bean mixture and so do we.