Chicken, Chard, and Cranberry Bean Stew

By • January 1, 2014 8 Comments

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Author Notes: If you find yourself with a jar of preserved lemons, set some aside for this stew. The combination of pungent lemon, creamy beans, silky greens, and rich, chicken-y broth is perfect for any day. This is also a great example of stretching a little bit of meat to feed a lot of people: One pound of bone-in, skin-on chicken legs will generate enough flavor to satisfy six to eight eaters. Serve this with bread or couscous for soaking up all the flavorful juices.ieatthepeach

Serves 6 to 8

  • 1 pound dried cranberry beans
  • 5 cups water, plus more for soaking the beans
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 bunch (about 3/4 pound) red chard, thoroughly washed, divided
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs or drumsticks
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 to 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • Two 3-inch cinnamon sticks
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red chile flakes, or to taste
  • 1 small preserved lemon, rinsed and minced
  • Bread or couscous for serving (optional)
  1. Place the beans in a large bowl, and pour enough water over them to cover by at least 2 inches. Add the salt and stir until dissolved. Let the beans soak for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours. Once the beans have soaked, drain and rinse them thoroughly, and set aside.
  2. Cut the chard leaves away from the stems, then roughly chop the leaves and thinly slice the stems. Set aside.
  3. In a Dutch oven or heavy pot with a lid, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Season the chicken lightly on both sides with salt and pepper, then add to the pot and brown thoroughly on both sides, about 3 minutes on each side. Transfer the partially cooked chicken to a plate and set aside.
  4. Reduce the heat under the pot to medium. Add onions and chard stems and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, or until the onions are soft. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for another 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until fragrant. Add 5 cups water, cinnamon sticks, bay leaf, paprika, and chile flakes, and stir to combine. Add beans, reserved chicken pieces, and any juices that have accumulated on the chicken plate.
  5. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to keep the liquid at a steady simmer. Partially cover with a lid and simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until the beans are tender but still slightly firm and the chicken is almost falling off the bone. Remove the chicken from the pot, transfer to a plate, and set it aside.
  6. Add the chard leaves and preserved lemon to the pot, and stir until the chard wilts. Simmer, uncovered, for 30 to 45 minutes, or until the liquid has thickened and the chard and beans are tender. If the stew seems to be getting dry before the beans are done, add a splash of water. Remove and discard cinnamon sticks and bay leaf.
  7. Pull or cut the chicken meat into bite-sized pieces; discard bones and skin. Return the chicken meat to the pot, along with any juices that accumulated on the plate. Stir until the meat is heated through. Taste and adjust the salt as needed—you probably won’t need much, since the preserved lemon is plenty salty.
  8. Ladle the stew into bowls, and serve warm with bread or couscous (if desired). Leftovers will keep, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or in the freezer for 3 months.
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Comments (8) Questions (0)

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3 months ago Sameshirt

I made this today and it's hearty and tasty. The lemon really makes this dish. Like Girlwithaknife, I couldn't find cranberry beans; my Whole Foods no longer seems to carry them, though I've bought them there in the past. I used kidney beans instead and like the red they add to this dish--but a pound of them makes a huge quantity. Were I to use kidneys again, I'd start with only a half pound. Also, I soaked them for 24 hours and found they cooked much faster than I expected. If I'd given them a full hour, as called for in the recipe, they'd have been mushy. I was glad I checked after about 45 minutes.

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3 months ago girlwithaknife

If I can't find cranberry beans, what is a good substitute? What about canned beans?

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3 months ago ieatthepeach

You could use any dried white beans, like navy beans or Great Northerns. I wouldn't use canned beans--this stew really depends on dried beans for flavor and texture, and canned beans will get mushy by the time the chicken's cooked.

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3 months ago nancy essig

I am going to make this soon. So perfect. Problem is, I will never have preserved lemons . What can be exchanged? Just lemon?

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3 months ago ieatthepeach

Yes, you can substitute some grated lemon zest and a tiny squeeze of lemon juice! I'd add it right at the end, so that the flavor stays fresh.

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3 months ago tinab

Oh. I think I'll try the first few steps in the pressure cooker (since the weather has gotten warmer, and I don't want to heat up the house any more than necessary.) Lovely! Love the idea of adding some preserved lemon here.

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over 1 year ago LE BEC FIN

yummm, this looks quite wonderful. love that you have greens and beans, now the grains.... i think i'll use wheatberries for nutrition, mixed with couscous for absorbing the sauce! th you:-)

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over 1 year ago ieatthepeach

Ooh, I love that idea!