Here’s a great example of me cleaning out my refrigerator. I had three raw chicken thighs, some brown mushrooms, carrots, celery, onions and some homemade chicken stock. A great technique for creating wonderful flavor is to brown some meat and then use the brown bits stuck in the pan as the basis for a sauce. This technique combined with these ingredients made a light but wonderfully satisfying late evening meal.
I called this a “ragout” because I used thyme, which I typically think of as a French spice. You can just call it a stew if you like. I love the way the beans thicken the sauce up without having to add any additional starch. The final texture of the sauce is much finer and silkier than most stews.
Chicken and white bean ragout (stew)
- 3 chicken thighs
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 stalks of celery, chopped
- 2 cups mushrooms, sliced
- 1 can of pinto beans, drained
- 1/2t dried thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 1T kitchen bouquet
- 2 cups chicken stock
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1T olive oil
Fry the chicken thighs in a stainless pan over medium heat with the olive oil. It’s important to get the chicken well browned with the bits stuck in the pan getting well browned as well. Watch the heat so that the bits in the pan don’t burn. You only need to get a nice brown color right now. The chicken will cook fully with the other ingredients later.
Remove the chicken and add the carrots, celery and onions and cook about 5-10 min until they start to soften. Add the mushrooms and cook another 5 min. Add the beans, thyme, kitchen bouquet and chicken stock. Turn the pan down to low. Add the chicken thighs back to the pan, cover and simmer about 15 min.
Remove the lid and check the consistency. It should be thick like a stew. If it’s too dry, add some water. If it’s too saucy, turn up the heat and cook with the lid off until it thickens up. Spoon some sauce into a shallow bowl and top with a chicken thigh.
Here are some minor variations that I think would be nice.
- Use fresh thyme and/or rosemary
- Mix in some fresh chopped parsley just before serving
- Use chicken breasts but fry them fully and add at the end
- Use great northern beans instead of pinto
Here are some more major renovations!
- Substitute bell pepper for the carrots to give it a Cajun spin. Leave out the mushrooms and add hot sauce and/or cayenne to complete the theme. Heck, swap alligator tail for the chicken!
- Swap chickpeas for the beans and change the spices to cinnamon, allspice, ginger and cumin. Add chopped apricots and/or preserved lemons. Serve with a couscous pilaf.
Remember that any ingredient in any recipe can potentially be substituted or omitted. Use your creativity! If you make this or any variation, post a comment to let me know. I’d love to hear how you made this recipe your own!