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White Bean Ragut & Roasted Chicken

Earthy flavors – fresh herbs, roasted vegetables – beg for winter’s fire.

Cold winter days just scream for the kind of  soul warming recipes that keep wanderers heading to Provence and Tuscany year after year. While winter 2012 has certainly been on the mild side so far, a simple roasted chicken is just the thing to warm up the kitchen, even without snow. Combining ease with rich flavor, it’s a great dinner party standby, and the white bean ragut is one of those staples you should always have around – I love a quick kale or radish greens sauté finished off with the creamy beans.

For a girl on the constant run, this is an easy meal to throw together on a lazy Sunday evening and then nibble on for lunch throughout the week. Soaking the beans makes for an extra step, but they have so much more flavor when cooked from scratch. Whether you are looking to impress a group (pair the chicken with a Châteauneuf-du-Pape perhaps), or just want to enjoy this recipe for simplicity’s sake, it’s one to keep around for sure.

White Bean Ragut and Roasted Chicken
4 to 6 servings

For the White Bean Ragut:
1 cup dried navy or cannelloni beans
3 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 carrot, minced
1 celery stalk, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 slices thick-cut bacon, diced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
½ teaspoon balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper
½ cup fresh parsley

For the Roasted Chicken:
1 whole chicken
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 carrot, rough chopped
1 onion, rough chopped
2 stalks celery, rough chopped
Fresh herbs, including parsley and thyme

 

1. Cover the beans with water and soak overnight. Drain, rinse and cover again with water. Salt the water, add the 3 garlic cloves and simmer for 40 to 45 minutes, until tender. Drain, reserving cooking liquid.

2. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Rinse the chicken thoroughly, pat dry, and season well with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place the vegetables in the bottom of a roasting pan, neatly tuck the chicken on top (or use butcher twine to truss it) and put the herbs in the cavity of the chicken. Cook for 50 to 60 minutes, until golden brown and fully cooked. Use any juice to baste the chicken and let it rest for 15 minutes.

3. While the chicken is roasting, heat the olive oil in a heavy-duty saucepan over medium heat. Cook the carrot, celery, garlic, and bacon until the vegetables are translucent. Add 1 cup of the bean cooking liquid, the tomato paste, and the beans. Cook for 20 to 30 minutes. Add in the balsamic vinegar, season with salt and pepper and cook an additional 5 minutes; add additional cooking liquid from the beans if necessary to thin out the ragut.

4. After the chicken has rested, sprinkle the chopped parsley into the ragut. Carve the chicken and serve with the white bean ragut.

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