Lemon Chicken Stew with White Beans
- 1 lb dry flageolet, cannellini or other small white bean
- 2 tbsps kosher salt (for quick soaking beans)
- 4 cups or 6 cups chicken stock
- 2 lbs chicken thighs, bone-in or boneless
- Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
- 4 slices thick cut bacon cooked crisp and diced, bacon fat reserved
- 3 tbsps olive oil
- 2 large shallots sliced
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 1 lemon (preferably Meyer) sliced thin
- 2/3 cup dry un-oaked wine such as Sauvignon Blanc
- 10 sprigs fresh thyme tied together with cotton string for easy retrieval
- 1 tbsp Tamari
- 1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, rinsed
- Juice of second lemon
- Lemon olive oil (cold pressed) optional
Quick soak beans by putting them in a large pot with 2 tablespoons kosher salt and 10 cups of cold water. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil 1 minute. Remove from heat, cover and let soak for 1 hour. Drain and return beans to the pot. Add chicken stock and water if needed to cover by about ¾ inch.
While beans are soaking, pat dry and generously salt and pepper chicken. In a large heavy frying/sauté pan over medium heat, fry chicken in reserved bacon fat combined with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Cover pan for first 5 minutes to steam as well. Turn after about 7 minutes, to brown on both sides and cook through, about 10 to 14 minutes total, depending on size of chicken pieces. Remove chicken and reserve. (Pour off accumulated chicken fat in pan if using bone-in chicken with skin.) Add another tablespoon olive oil if needed, and over medium low heat, cook shallots until softened and browned on edges, 4 or 5 minutes. Add garlic and lemon slices and cook a few minutes more. Add white wine and cook, stirring a few minutes to deglaze pan and reduce by about half.
Add shallot mixture, thyme bundle and bacon to the bean and chicken stock pot. Bring to boil then reduce heat to simmer, covered for about 45 minutes until beans are tender. Add reserved chicken, tamari, kalamata olives and cook uncovered until somewhat thickened, 20 to 30 minutes more. Remove from heat. Retrieve thyme stem bundle and stir in lemon juice and a splash of lemon olive oil if you have it. If using bone in chicken, remove chicken pieces and when cool enough to handle pull/cut meat off the bones and return to the stew. Check for seasoning and add additional salt and pepper as desired. Serve with crusty bread.
Stew always tastes best made a day or two ahead. Cool and refrigerate. Reheat gently.