Monday, May 9, 2011

Navy Bean Stew with Chicken and Sausage

From our trusty copy of Slow Cooker Revolution. I used dried beans instead of canned and made a couple of other tweaks. Though I was worried about the adjustments to liquid level and cooking time, the tweaks worked out fairly well; in the interests of boosting flavor, I increase the stock-to-water ratio or decrease the liquid altogether, as well as adjust the levels of  spices and aromatics. The recipe itself is a bit fussy, but as far as I can tell, all steps are worth it.
  • 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 T vegetable oil
  • 1 lb. Italian sausages, sliced 1 in. thick
  • 2 onions, minced
  • 1 fennel bulb, tops discarded; bulb halved, cored and sliced thin
  • 6 plump garlic cloves, minced (about 3 T)
  • 1 T tomato paste
  • 1 T fresh thyme, minced (halve for dried)
  • 1/8 t red pepper flakes (may increase this in the future)
  • 1/3 c all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 4 c chicken stock
  • 3 c hot water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 lb. dried navy beans 
  • 6 oz. baby spinach
  • grated Parmesan cheese, for serving
Dry chicken with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Brown half the chicken lightly on both sides, working in batches if necessary (5-8 min.), then transfer to a bowl. Add 1 more tablespoon of oil and repeat with the rest of the chicken; move to bowl.

Add the last tablespoon of oil to the skillet. Brown the sausage well (3-5 min.); transfer to a bowl with the chicken.

Pour off all but 1-2 tablespoons of oil. Add onions, fennel, garlic, tomato paste, thyme and red pepper flakes. Cook over medium-high heat till vegetables are soft and lightly browned (8-12 min.).

Stir in flour and cook for 1-2 minutes. Whisk in wine; scrape up any browned bits and smooth out any lumps (whisk in a cup of the broth if necessary). Transfer the vegetables and liquid to the slow cooker.

Stir the remaining liquid and bay leaves into the slow cooker. Add the beans (skipped the initial soaking, but they seemed fine) and the meat (as well as any accumulated juices) to the slow cooker as well.

Cover and cook till beans are done and chicken is tender. I had success with 3 hours on low and 2 hours on high.

Let stew settle, then remove fat from surface using large spoon (skipped this step). Remove chicken, shred and return to the pot, if you like (I left it whole, as it was falling-apart soft later).

Stir in spinach, cover, and cook on high till heated through, about 10 minutes. Adjust seasoning and serve with grated Parmesan.

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