A Cozy Winter Dinner
It’s been the year of cooking at home. When COVID hit, there was a mad dash for canned items and other pantry goods. We cooked and cooked and cooked, then went out and restocked, and cooked some more. Sourdough, banana bread, homemade pizza, the list goes on. And yet after so many months and so many meals, the daily question remains—what’s for dinner? And what to do with all those cans in the pantry?
Often, the most satisfying dinners are the ones we throw together with what’s on hand. This cozy winter dish is no exception. It relies on pantry staples—canned white beans, crushed tomatoes and chicken broth—to make a hearty, soul-satisfying dinner. The addition of roasted chicken thighs elevates this recipe from a simple side dish to a complete dinner, but you could also use skin-on breasts if that’s what you have or prefer, or even substitute roasted wild mushrooms (and use vegetable broth) to make the recipe vegetarian.
While one-pot chicken dishes often call for braising the meat, browning the chicken on the stove and then finishing it in on a sheet pan in the oven delivers the best of both worlds. The flavor from the rendered chicken fat adds richness to the beans, and because the meat is roasted, not braised in liquid, the skin stays beautifully crisp.
Meanwhile, white beans and kale simmer with rosemary, garlic, white wine, crushed tomatoes and caramelized onions until tender and flavorful. Finished with grated Parmesan cheese, the beans form a delicious base for the crispy chicken thighs.
Serve right from the pot with an unoaked Chardonnay like Chablis.
Crispy Chicken Thighs with Braised White Beans and Kale
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (4 to 6 thighs)
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- 1 Vidalia onion, small-diced
- 1/2 cup small-diced carrots (about 1 carrot)
- 1/2 cup small-diced celery (about 1 celery rib)
- 3 garlic cloves, smashed
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 2 (15-ounce) cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- 3 cups chopped kale leaves, lightly packed (1 small bunch)*
- 1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth, plus more as needed
- 1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
- 1 fresh rosemary sprig
- 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
- Chopped fresh parsley, for serving
- Rustic country bread, for serving
Step 1: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
Step 2: Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven set over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, pat the chicken thighs dry. When the oil is hot, carefully add the thighs to the pot skin-side down, spacing them evenly. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook without moving for 4 to 6 minutes, until the skin is golden brown and releases easily from the pan. Flip the thighs, season the skin with salt and pepper, and cook for 2 more minutes.
Step 3: Transfer the thighs to the prepared sheet pan and roast for 20 to 25 minutes, until the meat registers 165 degrees on an internal thermometer. Sprinkle lightly with salt and set aside to rest.
Step 4: Meanwhile, add the onions, carrots, celery and garlic to the Dutch oven, turn the heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring often, for 4 to 6 minutes, until the onions are translucent. Add the wine and cook until reduced by half.
Step 5: Add the beans, kale, broth, tomatoes, rosemary and 1 teaspoon salt, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender and the liquid has reduced. If the beans seem dry at any point, add a splash of broth.
Step 6: Discard the rosemary sprig and any large pieces of garlic. Using the back of a wooden spoon, press some of the beans against the side of the pot to lightly mash them. Off the heat, stir in the Parmesan and taste for seasonings. Arrange the chicken thighs on top of the beans and sprinkle with parsley and a few grinds of black pepper.
Step 7: Serve hot in shallow bowls, with rustic country bread and Parmesan cheese on the side.
*To remove kale leaves from the stems, lay the leaves flat on a cutting board and cut down both sides of the center rib. Discard the ribs.