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Playing Chicken Thighs with Escarole and White Beans


  • 1 rounded cup dry cannellini beans
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 onions, 1 halved and 1 chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, 2 crushed and 4 sliced
  • 3 sprigs rosemary
  • 8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 pound pancetta, chopped
  • 1 starchy potato, peeled and chopped
  • Zest of 1 lemon, juice of half
  • 1 large head escarole, cleaned and coarsely chopped
  • Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
  • Crusty bread, warmed and torn


Serves: 4


Boil enough water to cover beans; pour over beans in a bowl and let stand 1 hour. Rinse and drain, and place beans in a 4- to 5-quart pot. Cover with water by about 2 inches and bring to a gentle boil. Salt water and turn down to a low boil. Add bay leaf, halved onion, crushed garlic and rosemary, and simmer until tender, 30-35 minutes. Drain and discard onions and bay. Remove rosemary stems (the leaves will fall into beans).

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil, 3 turns of the pan, in a large, deep skillet or Dutch oven. Brown chicken until skin is crispy and the meat is browned, 8 minutes or so, turning once. Transfer chicken to a plate and reduce heat a bit. Add pancetta and crisp for 3 minutes. Add potato and lightly brown, 4-5 minutes. Add chopped onions, sliced garlic, 2 teaspoons of lemon zest and cook to soften, 8-10 minutes, stirring often. Wilt escarole into pan, season with a few grates of nutmeg and add beans and their stock. Nest the chicken in greens and beans, and transfer pan to oven to finish cooking, 15-18 minutes at a low simmer.

Stir in a squeeze of lemon juice and serve chicken, escarole, beans and broth in shallow bowls with bread alongside for mopping.