On cold winter days when I crave comfort in a bowl, this white bean, pork, and chicken stew is what I love to eat. Reminiscent of cassoulet, but without duck confit (less expensive chicken thighs take their place) and without the cooking time required of dried beans (canned beans are used here), this stew is perfect with a side of crusty french bread and a glass of wine.
Before I get started, a word on the stars of this recipe – the beans, the chicken, and the pork. For the beans, this recipe requires a soft creamy white bean. Nothing else will do, and in my opinion, the best beans to use are canned cannellini beans. For the chicken, I always use chicken thigh meat here and I strongly advise against using chicken breast in this recipe as the long cooking time will dry them out. Finally, for the pork, this stew uses two types – diced bacon and whole sausages. For the sausages, I’m using chipolata sausages for this post, but any good Italian or French sausage will do. Unlike the beans and the chicken, this an ingredient that can be played around with.
After I gather all my ingredients (beans, chicken, bacon, sausage, leeks, carrots, garlic, herbs, white wine. chicken stock, salt, pepper, and olive oil), I do a bit of prep before I start cooking. First, I dice the carrots and slice the leeks into thin half-moons. Then, I mince the garlic and fresh herbs (a mix of rosemary, thyme, sage, and oregano). Finally, as part of the cooking prep, I also pre-heat the oven to 120 C.
With the prep complete and the oven pre-heating, it is time to start cooking. I season the chicken with salt and pepper and then, in a small amount of olive oil in a dutch oven, I brown the chicken thigh pieces. Once brown and mostly cooked through, I set them aside. I then brown the sausages in the same pan and begin rendering the fat from the bacon. I’m very carefully here not to let the pan burn as the brown bits accumulating on the bottom of the pan are going to pack an enormous amount of flavor into this dish. When the sausages are lightly browned, I set them aside with the chicken.
I continue to sauté the bacon until it just begins to crisp. I then add the diced leeks and carrots to the pan with the bacon and cook the leeks and carrots over medium heat until soft, about 10 minutes. While sautéing the carrots and leeks, I sprinkle them with just a pinch of salt and pepper, to help build the layers of flavor in this dish. When the leeks and carrots are soft, I add the minced garlic and herbs and sauté the mixture until just fragrant. Next, I raise the heat a bit and add 250 ml of white wine to deglaze the pan. Using a wooden spoon, I make sure to scrape all those delicious brown bits from the bottom of the pan.
After the wine has reduced by about half, I add about 250 ml of chicken stock and return the chicken and sausages to the pan. I then add the drained and rinsed beans to the pot giving everything a good mix. (Note: If using a low sodium chicken stock, you may want to adjust the seasoning and add some additional salt.) I then add just enough additional chicken stock so that the beans are completely covered with stock and put the pan (uncovered) into the preheated oven. The stew needs to cook for about 2.5 hours. I check on it every so often to make sure the top isn’t getting too brown or too dry. If it starts to get dry, I add more chicken stock.
When the stew is done, the exposed sausages should be browned and the beans should be creamy and full of flavor.
This hearty stew is best served with a crusty loaf of bread and nice glass of wine.
White Bean, Pork, and Chicken Stew
- 3 (240 g) cans cannellini beans
- 150 g carrots, diced
- 150 g leek, sliced into half moons
- 150 g bacon, diced
- 300 g French or Italian style sausages
- 500 g bonless chicken thigh pieces
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 tbsp fresh chopped herbs (rosemary, oregano, thyme, and sage)
- 2-3 tbsp olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Then, in a dutch oven, over medium-high heat, add a tablespoon of olive (or two) and brown the chicken on all sides. Remove from pan and set aside.
- In the same pan, brown the sausages and sauté the bacon.
- When the sausages just begin to brown, remove them and set aside with the chicken.
- Add the dices carrots and the leek to the bacon. Sauté until soft, about 10 minutes.
- Add the minced garlic and herbs and sauté until just fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Pour in the white wine and with a wooden spoon or spatula, scrape the bottom of the pan to deglaze it. When the wine has reduced by half, add 250 ml of chicken stock.
- Add the chicken and sausage back to the pan.
- Drain and rinse the beand and then add them to the pot. Stir everything to combine.
- Add enough additional stock to almost cover the beans. The sausage should poke out the top so they brown a bit more in the oven. Note: If you are using a low sodium chicken stock, you may want to adjust the seasoning and add some additional salt.
- Put the pan, uncovered into a 120 C oven for 2.5 hours, stirring 2 or three times to prevent the top from getting overly browned. If the stew starts to become too dry, add additional chicken stock.
- Serve with a crusty bread.