Here is another of my seasonally inappropriate recipes from the comfort food binge last weekend. The temperature has stayed on the cool side, so I’m guessing it won’t be long before everyone is starting to crave winter warmers.
This recipe was an experiment, so I have only made it once. It worked very well, but I feel the need to highlight that it has not been ‘tried and tested’ in the usual way. The combination and balance of ingredients was just right, so I wouldn’t change anything there, but I would be interested in trying out alternative cooking methods.
Some other recipes with cannellini beans only require that you boil the beans in stock for 10 to 15 minutes before adding them to the casserole. I had never made a casserole with cannellini beans before, so I was wary of adding them only partially cooked and then finding that they were still hard when everything else was ready. I was also cautious of overcooking them, hence leaving them to one side while the casserole was on the stove. I found this method worked just fine, but I might take the risk next time and allow them to cook in the casserole.
The chief dilemma I had when making this dish was whether to put it in the oven. My indecision is evident in the fact that I ended up cooking it half on the stove before transferring it to the oven. Those masters of French cooking, Child, Bertolle and Beck advise that,
Stews may be cooked either in the oven or on top of the stove; the oven is preferable because its heat is more uniform.
Indeed, my chicken might have been more tender had it spent less time on the stove. The main reason I cooked it for a while this way was to reduce the sauce, but I could have just as easily put it uncovered in the oven to achieve the same result. In doing so, I would probably have ended up with a nice crust on top of the dish, similar to that on a cassolet. I will try this next time and let you know how it turns out.
Serves 4 as a main course.
Preheat the oven to 180C
Drain the beans and put in a large saucepan with the whole clove of garlic, 1 bay leaf, a few sprigs of the thyme and the chicken stock. Bring to the boil and cook for 15 minutes before turning down the heat and leaving them to simmer for a further 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Heat the lard or olive oil over a medium-high heat in a large heavy-based casserole. Fry the chorizo for 2 to 3 minutes, before it starts to crisp remove with a slotted spoon and put to one side. Add the chicken thighs, lightly brown on each side, remove from the pan and put to one side.
Turn the heat down to low, add the onions and remaining garlic and sweat for 5 minutes or until pale and translucent. Finely chop the remaining thyme, pulling the leaves off any particularly woody stems and discarding the latter; you should have approximately 1 tbsp chopped thyme. Add the thyme to the onions along with the other bay leaf.
Turn the heat up and pour in the white wine. Let the wine bubble and reduce, then add the tinned tomatoes, roast pepper, smoked paprika, salt and pepper. Stir, check for seasoning and adjust as necessary.
When the beans are ready, drain them over a bowl, reserving the stock. Discard the garlic, bay leaf and thyme and leave the beans to one side. Add the leftover stock (approx 200ml) to the stew, along with the chicken and chorizo. Cook over a low heat for 30mins, partially covered, before adding the beans and transferring to the oven (covered) for a further 30 minutes.
Sprinkle with fresh parsley and serve with crusty bread.