Friday, September 30, 2016

French-Style White Bean Stew

Every night when I strap Lucy into her high chair and place her meal in front of her, I have exactly five minutes before she will pick up her plate and shove it towards me while declaring: "All done!" Naturally, the rest of us are usually not finished quite so quickly and the little lady has to wait before we release her back into the wild. She finds this very displeasing and then will spend the remainder of dinner whining and demanding her freedom. It's horribly annoying and a very unsatisfactory dining experience after all the work effort that normally goes into cooking dinner.

Because of this awful habit, Lucy rarely cleans her plate. Unless we have pizza and then she is sure to polish off at least three slices (but will pick the pepperoni off). However, the girls is not opposed to trying new things. She is always wandering around the house putting random objects in her mouth. Normally I will be fussing about vacuuming or folding laundry and Lucy will wander in with her mouth wide open and her tongue sticking out while making an "Ahhhhh" sound. This means that she put something unpleasant in her mouth and now requires my help fishing it back out. Usually it's a piece of lint, a toy (!), or a bit of paper. When outside, I have to monitor her very closely because she loves to try eating all the plants she can find. I'm constantly slapping grass, pieces of the rosebush, or the hydrangeas out of her tight little fists. She won't ever touch a bit of the salad I put in front of her for dinner, but she's all about neighborhood foraging.

Lucy's random taste testing took an all time low this week while we were at the grocery store. I had written out a list of items we needed on a small piece of notebook paper and was reading off of it as we navigated throughout the store aisles. Lucy noticed my list and swiped it out of my hands. I was so distracted by my shopping that I just let her hold it. However, when it came time for me to glance at it again to ensure that I had bought everything, the list was nowhere to be found.

"Lucy, did you drop it?" I asked her as I began to visually search the floor of the aisle we had just walked down. Unable to find it, I glanced back at Lucy and noticed her mouth was full. Full of my list! She had jammed the entire piece of paper into her cheeks. I fished it out and found it almost completely dissolved and illegible. I scolded Lucy and she grinned sheepishly. When we got home from shopping, I tried to feed her a snack of Greek yogurt but she wouldn't have any of it. I guess that piece of notebook paper filled her right up!

The recipe for today is another meal that my kids wouldn't touch. But I didn't make this with their taste buds in mind. I made it for Paul. His favorite thing about the cooler months are the warm, cozy meals that are typically made during them. He loves soups, stews, chilis, casseroles, and basically anything that should be served with a side of crusty bread. This recipe for chicken cassoulet is right up his alley and it was the perfect comforting, easy, filling dinner to serve during a very stressful work week. Like I said, the kids, with the exception of Matthew, wouldn't touch it and just ate bread for dinner but the rest of us loved it. I'm a big fan of meals that can be made in one pot and this recipe fit that bill perfectly.

French-Style White Bean Stew
adapted slightly from Cook's Country Feb/March 2016

Note: The original recipe called for the stew to be served with homemade toasted croutons scatter atop each serving, but we chose to skip that and just made some garlic bread as a side.

1 tablespoons olive oil
2 (5-7 ounce) bone-in chicken thighs, trimmed
8 ounces garlic sausage or bratwurst
1 onion, chopped fine
1/2 cup canned diced tomatoes
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 (15 ounce) can of navy beans or cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season well with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in 10-inch heavy skillet or dutch oven over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add chicken, skin side down, and sausage and cook, rotating sausage occasionally but leaving chicken undisturbed, until well browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer to plate.

Add onion, tomatoes, and 14 teaspoon salt to now-empty pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and beginning to brown, about 5-7 minutes. Stir in garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in broth and wine and scrape up any browned bits. Add beans and stir to combine.

Add chicken, skin side up, sausage, and any accumulated juices to bean mixture and ring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until chicken registers 175 degrees, about 10-15 minutes.

Remove lid, increase heat to medium-low, and continue to simmer until sauce is slightly thickened and liquid falls just below surface of beans, about 10 minutes longer. It's really loose when you first take it off the heat (as it is in my picture above) but will thicken upon standing. Sprinkle with parsley right before serving.

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