Monday, February 16, 2015

Cassoulet- Stew with Chicken Thighs and Sausage

In the winter I'm always looking for easy, hearty food that will warm us from the inside out. And of course it has to have BIG flavor.  Cassoulet fits the bill.  When I first saw this recipe on I thought "oh great! its cooked in the crock pot." But after I read further there are many, many steps you need to go through before it actually gets into the crock pot. So I wouldn't recommend it for a crock pot dinner you throw together before work. But the flavor is worth the effort.

I chose to try this recipe because I had most everything on hand (except the pork loin which I substituted chicken thighs for) and I could finish cooking it in the crock pot which meant I was free to go out before the snow storm hit.

To make this cassoulet version you will need:

2 slices of bacon, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
3 cloves of garlic
1/2 tsp salt or to taste
1/2 tsp pepper or to taste
1 large can of crushed tomatoes (I used a 26 ounce of sea salt and olive oil flavored tomatoes)
2 cans (15 ounce) Great Northern beans or cannellini beans
1 pound of boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into chunks
1 smoked sausage, cut into chunks
Parmesan cheese and flat leaf parsley for garnish

In a large skillet cooked the chopped bacon until crispy. Remove from skillet. In the same skillet cook the onions and garlic in the bacon drippings for about 3 minutes or until tender. Season the onions and garlic with the thyme and rosemary. Cook until fragrant.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add bacon back to pan and add the tomatoes. Bring to a boil then remove from heat.

Drain and rinse both cans of beans.  Take one can and smash with a potato masher. This may sound easy but it does take some effort. Be sure to mash these beans in a large bowl.  Add the chicken thighs and smoked sausage to the mashed beans along with the other can of beans (whole).

Place a layer of the mashed bean and meat mixture into the bottom of the crock pot. Then layer the tomato mixture. Continue the layers until all the mixtures are in the crock pot.  Turn on LOW and cook 5 hours.  Ladle into bowls and garnish with Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley.

Serve with some crusty bread and you have a complete, flavorful and healthy meal that will warm you up!!