I use the term “stew” loosely in titling this recipe. The result is not so much a stew as a braise, as I use whole chicken thighs and the broth is rich and thick. However, I find it to be delicious and satisfying as a stand alone dish, and as I am always chatting with people looking for ways to cut back on carbohydrates, I thought I would offer this as a nice alternative to the chicken breast and broccoli meal.
Beans, often referred to as “slow” carbs, add a lot to a dish that doesn’t include pasta or grains. The fiber and protein aid in long term fullness, and they have a buttery flavor without adding fat. In this recipe, I chose to use cannellini beans as they have a sweet, mild flavor. Black eyed peas (rumored to be lucky) or giant white beans would also be delicious.
Finally, the addition of the eggplant makes this a hearty, thick stew and balances the savory flavor with a smokey sweetness. I cut my eggplant into small cubes and leave the skin on, both for the nutritional value and the color, but if you prefer, you can peel the eggplant before you cut it. I also added Kale to this dish because I love it and I know it is so good for me. To be honest, I add kale to just about as many dishes as I can get away with for both of those reasons.
For those of you who can’t do a meal without pasta or grains, throw the stew over your favorite pasta or some brown rice. Or, grab a crusty loaf of sourdough and call it dinner. Either way, make extra because it’s even better left over.
In a heavy-bottom pot with a tight fitting lid (such as a dutch oven), heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Place it in the hot pot skin side down and do not touch it until the underside is well browned and slides easily in the pot. Turn and brown on the other side. Remove from the pan and set aside on a plate lined with a paper towel.
Add the butter, thyme, garlic, and onions. Reduce the heat to medium and saute the onions until they become translucent and golden, about 7-8 minutes. Add the cubes of eggplant and mushrooms. Stir to coat with remaining oil and butter, season well with salt and add red pepper if desired, and then place the lid on the pot. This will allow the eggplant to steam and cook through without adding more oil to the pan. Every five minutes or so, remove the lid, give it a stir, and then cover again until the eggplant and mushrooms are soft and moist.
Add the chopped kale and stir well. Add the wine and, with the lid off, allow it to reduce by at least half. While the wine is reducing, scrape the bottom of the pan to deglaze. Once the wine has reduced, add the tomatoes, beans, and chicken stock. Return the chicken thighs to the pot, covering each thigh completely in the liquid. Cover the pot with the lid, and reduce the heat to low. Cook on low for 45 minutes to an hour.
After 45 minutes to an hour, the chicken thighs should be tender enough that the meat should slip easily from the bone. At this point, I like to (carefully) remove them from the cooking liquid, and with tongs and a fork remove the chicken meat from the bones. I return the chicken meat to the liquid, stir in the chopped basil, and the stew is ready to serve. Serves 4-6 people.
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