Saturday, February 4, 2012

Tuscan White Beans and Chicken

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My husband converted me into a bean lover.  They're high in protein and fiber - with zero fat.  I love that!  What I knew of beans before Jereme were the ones on the cafeteria tray at the school from my hometown of Nashville, Arkansas.  From what I remember, they were brown, mushy, and they lay in a broth or sauce in the corner of the tray, and they did not appeal to me.  Then I started waiting tables at Romano's Macaroni Grill during college, and they were making lentil bean soup all the time.  I loved the Italian flavors in the broth, and the lentils were a nice chewy texture that weren't mushy at all!  Actually, I thought they were delicious!
You can get a one pound bag of Great Northern beans for about a dollar, and that bag will go a long way.  I can make this dish for our family of four, have some leftovers to eat the next day, and then have more to freeze for another day!  The dish is healthy, light, and filling!  It's so much like a bowl of chicken noodle soup, except the beans replace the noodles.  And the beans offer so much more nutrition. I've read that soaking the beans and adding the bay leaf should reduce gas - known to be common with beans!

Ingredients:
  • 1 pound bag of Great Northern Beans
  • 2 quarts (8 cups) of chicken broth
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 organic carrots, sliced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
Directions:
  1. Soak the beans overnight or via quick soak method per package directions.
  2. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a medium stock pot.  Add onion and carrot and saute until soft.  Season with some coarse kosher salt.
  3. Add the garlic, saute for about 3 minutes so that it doesn't burn, then add the chicken broth.
  4. Over medium high heat, bring it up to a boil.  Once boiling, add the chicken, beans, bay leaves, oregano, and basil.
  5. Bring up to a boil, then simmer for an hour and a half, covered, over low heat.
  6. Remove the chicken with a slotted spoon and shred with 2 forks.  Then add the chicken back to the pot.  Add salt as needed.  Top with freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano.

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