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Chicken Thighs with Escarole and White Beans

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 (about 2 teaspoons) and juice of 1/2 lemon

  • 1 large head escarole, cleaned and coarsely chopped

  • Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste

  • Crusty bread, warmed and torn


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

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

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