Saturday 22 August 2015

Hearty Three-Bean Chicken Stew

Bacon, chicken chunks and three different beans, cooked to a rich tomato stew with a ton of different spices, and made creamy by a cheeky handful of cheese stirred in at the end. What's not to like? :)

I improvised this on the fly last night with leftover ingredients, so measurements are totally approximate. Feel free to add or omit anything on the list- I think carrots, zucchini or any chunky vegetables of your choice would make a great addition too.

Hearty Three-Bean Chicken Stew
Serves 8

*If you prefer not to use canned beans, just soak 3/4 cup of dried beans for each kind listed (so 2 1/4 cups dried beans total) overnight in water. Bring to a boil the next day and simmer for about 90 mins-2 hrs until cooked. You can use the water from cooking the beans in your stew.

Snip 200g streaky bacon into bits with some kitchen shears- I like to use Trader Joe's Bacon Ends and Pieces for cooking, and I much prefer kitchen scissors to a knife so I can cut it straight into the pot without getting a chopping board greasy.

Add a touch of olive oil and saute over medium-high heat until the fat from the bacon melts.

Add in and cook for a few minutes:
1 large cooking onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, chopped
A few dried chillies, crushed

Cut 2 lbs boneless chicken thighs into small chunks ( far prefer dark meat to white, but you can use chicken breast if preferred). Add to the pot and saute briefly until seared.

Pour in:
1 can (28 oz) chopped tomatoes
1 can (15 oz) each of pinto beans, red kidney beans and white canellini beans, drained (you can use just one type or other varieties if you prefer)
About 1 cup water (or the stock from cooking your dried beans if you did that)
1 tsp each of ground cumin and ground coriander
A generous sprinkling of dried oregano, basil, thyme, smoked paprika and cayenne (or any other herbs you want)
Lots of freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste
1 bay leaf

Bring to a boil, then simmer on low-medium heat, stirring occasionally for about 30-45 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and sauce is thickened.

Right at the end, stir in a tiny handful of grated cheese to make creamy (I had a Mexican blend of asadero, sharp cheddar, queso blanco and Monterey Jack lying around).

Let cool slightly before serving. Eat on its own, with rice or with bread.

Tastes even better as leftovers the next day!

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