I've been thinking about making braised rabbit and white beans for some time, but I figured I would try it with chicken first. Rabbit tends to be a bit pricy to experiment with. One might classify this as a poor mans cassoulet. I would call it gourmet peasant food. This is my own recipe, but conceptually it is based on the building blocks of soups and stews. I'm not sure these photos quite do it justice, but I am so pleased with the outcome that I have to share this recipe. I just wish I had made fresh bread to go along with this dish. I will definitely be making this recipe again, but substituting rabbit for the chicken.
(Braised Chicken with Cannellini Beans Recipe Follows)
Braised Chicken with Cannellini Beans
1 4 - 5 pound chicken, cut into 8 pices
1 tablespoon dry thyme
1/2 tablespoon dry sage leaves, crumbled (or fresh, but don't use that powdered sage they sell in spice jars)
salt and pepper for seasoning
1 1/2 cups dry cannellini beans
8 cups water for soaking the beans
3 ounces bacon (about 3 slices), diced
1 medium white onion, finely diced
2 medium carrots, 1/4 inch dice
2 celery stalks, 1/4 inch dice
4 whole cloves garlic, pealed and bruised
2 bay leaves
3 sage leaves dry or fresh
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup dry white wine
Soak the beans for at least 6 hours in 8 cups of water. Drain the beans and rinse. Set the beans aside.
Cut the chicken into 8 pieces, legs, thighs, and halve each breast. As always, leave the skin on.
Preheat the oven to 350º F.
Season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper, dry thyme, and crumbled sage. Heat a 4 - 6 quart oven safe pot or dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the bacon to the pot to brown and render out the fat, about 5 minutes. Remove the browned bacon and set aside. If the pot needs more oil add some olive oil so there are about 3 tablespoons of oil in the bottom. Add half the chicken to the pot skin side down. Brown the chicken on both sides, about 4 minutes per side. Remove the chicken and brown the second batch and set aside.
Add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, and bay leaves. Saute until the onion becomes translucent, but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add the soaked beans and wine. Bring the pot to a boil. Allow the wine to boil for 2 - 3 minutes. Add the chicken stock cover and return to a boil. Boil the beans on the stove top for 20 minutes. Stir in the sage leaves and bacon. Lay the chicken pieces on top of the beans skin side up so part of the chicken is above the surface of the liquid. Cover the pot and place in the oven. Braise in a 350º F oven for 45 - 60 minutes until the beans are cooked but retain their shape.
Remove the bay leaves and sage leaves before serving. I suggest some kind of sauteed greens to go along with this dish.
Notes: When I do this with rabbit I'll probably have to adjust the cooking time as I believe that rabbit will take a little longer. I may not boil the beans for 20 minutes before adding the rabbit either.