We bought some chicken thighs on sale last week & I got it into my head that I wanted to make some sort of stew using them with white beans. When I told Matt my idea he was very skeptical, he didn't feel like chicken was something that should be stewed in beans. I, on the other hand, thought the heartier flavor of the thighs would stand up well to stewing. Let me just say that this dish made Matt take back all his doubts.
I started with this recipe from Blue Kitchen. Not only did I change the cut of chicken from boneless breasts to thighs but I also added fennel & spinach (ok, the spinach was Matt's idea). The final product was rich & flavorful, a wonderful cold weather one pot meal. I want to imagine with its flavors of thyme & fennel that this is what I'd eat in Provence during winter (sure I've never been there but a girl can dream). The only thing we would change next time, and there will be a next time, is we'd add more carrots which I've noted in the recipe.
Chicken & White Bean Stew
4 slices of bacon, chopped
4 chicken thighs, on the bone with the skin removed
4 - 6 small carrots, sliced into 1/2-inch slices
1 medium onion, chopped
1 fennel bulb, chopped
1 large garlic clove, minced
leaves from 4 sprigs of thyme, chopped
2/3 c white wine
1 c chicken broth
2 cans white beans, drained & rinsed
3 c spinach, large stems removed & roughly torn
Cook the bacon in a large soup pot over medium heat until crisp. Remove to a paper towel to drain.
Salt & pepper the chicken thighs on both sides & add to the pot with the bacon fat. Cook for 10 minutes turning over halfway through. Remove the chicken to a plate & set aside.
Add the carrots to the pot & cook until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the onions & fennel & cook another 5 minutes. Next add the garlic & thyme cook briefly, about a minute.
Add the wine & broth, scrapping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add 2/3 of the beans. Using a fork, roughly mash the other 1/3 of the beans & add then as well. Bring to a boil.
Return the chicken & bacon to the pot. Turn down the heat, cover & simmer for 25 minutes. Remove the cover & stir in the spinach. Cook until the spinach is wilted. Check seasoning & add salt & pepper as needed. Serve with crusty bread in a shallow bowl.