TND – No really, I got it

February 4, 2011

Okay so last week when I said it could always be worse?  That wasn’t an invitation.  I don’t actually need to live out the Russian Jewish folktale.  I’m already on board with the moral of the story, I don’t need it proved to me with another 20+ inches of snow.  Or, as actually transpired 6-10” of snow on Tuesday, followed by more snow overnight and then freezing rain to compact it all and turn it into solid ice on Wednesday.  I had my second snow day of the year and spent it shoveling snow, chipping at ice and then attempting to recover by adding shots of whiskey to my coffee.  On the other hand, my roommate had to go to work, so I guess it – say it with me people – could always have been worse.

I polled people on Monday about the likelihood of anyone turning up for Dinner on Tuesday given the weather predictions and got a resounding response that nobody was  leaving their house if at all possible on Tuesday night.  This is entirely fair, since if Dinner wasn’t at my house I wouldn’t have turned up either.  In the end we did have a small Dinner for my roommate and I, who were going to go home and need to eat anyway, and two friends of ours who live 5 minutes away and said they’d be stir crazy by dinner time so could they please escape their cats and apartment for a different apartment and a cat who would probably ignore them.

Baked Chicken with White Beans and Tomatoes

Baked Chicken with White Beans and Tomatoes
(serves 4)

This is not what I had planned for Dinner this week.  I ended up freezing the raw ingredients for that Dinner and we’ll have it next week.  This is, instead, a recipe I’ve been meaning to try out on my roommate and I for a couple of weeks.  Final verdict:  solid idea that needs some fiddling.

On the plus side, it’s a one dish meal that comes together fairly fast, and feels hearty without being too heavy.  Plus I liked the creaminess of the beans and it looks gorgeous and bubbling when it comes out of the oven.  On the negative side of the equation, it’s a little bland because beans are inherently sort of neutral flavored and there wasn’t quite enough else going on in the dish to off set that.

More salt would definitely have helped, and that’s an easy fix for next time.  I think next time I would also use 2 cans of stewed tomatoes because I wanted a little more liquid in the dish and the extra tomatoes would give the flavor more depth.  I might also add a little lemon juice at the end for a brighter flavor.

6 bacon slices, cut into 1” pieces
4 chicken thighs with skin and bone (1.5 lb total)
2 medium onions, sliced thin
4 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 sprigs fresh thyme *
Splash of white wine or sherry
½ cup chicken stock
1 (15 oz)  can stewed tomatoes including juice
2 (15 oz) cans small white beans (aka navy beans), rinsed and drained

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F.

Cook bacon in a 10-inch heavy ovenproof skillet over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until browned and crisp, about 8 minutes. Transfer bacon with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain.  Pour off most of the fat, reserving just enough to brown the chicken.

While bacon is browning, pat chicken dry and season with salt and pepper. Brown chicken in reserved fat in skillet over moderately high heat, turning over once, about 8 minutes total, then transfer chicken with tongs to paper towels to drain.

Drain off most of accumulated fat and reduce heat to moderate. Cook onions and garlic in skillet with a sprinkle of salt, stirring and scraping up any brown bits, until golden brown, about 10 minutes.  Deglaze the pan with a splash of wine or sherry.  Stir tomatoes and juice into onions and add thyme.  Bring to a boil and them boil uncovered for about 3 minutes to concentrate juices slightly. Stir in bacon and beans and enough chicken stock to loosen the mixture up a little.  Bring to a simmer and then nestle chicken, skin side up, in beans and bake, uncovered, until chicken is cooked through, 20 to 25 minutes.

* I used thyme because (a) I quite like thyme, and (b) because I had some fresh thyme in the fridge.  If you didn’t have fresh thyme, dried thyme would work just as well.  Or you could use some chopped fresh rosemary, or fresh or dried oregano.  I think any savory herb would work.

Note: I went the slightly trashy route and served directly from my oven safe skillet.  However, if you wanted a classier presentation I would suggest turning the beans into a casserole and then nestling the chicken on top and baking.


One comment

  1. I also made this this week (thanks to your tip). We thought it was good, but also felt it needed a little extra zip. I did add some tomato paste mixed in a little water to add some juiciness. I also chopped some carrot and celery and cooked it with the onions and garlic. Mr. B suggested some more bacon, But I expect yours already had enough. (I had used pancetta due to lack of good strip bacon here, but pancetta does not continue with a good pork flavour after it cooks in a casserole.) If you continue to experiment, be sure to post what works well.

    I also served it at the table in my oven proof skillet. It is a one-dish meal; serving it in the pretty skillet adds to its appeal.

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