Yields 4 servings
Hands-on time: 35 minutes
Total preparation time: 45 minutes
Ingredients2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
8 bone-in chicken thighs (about 2 to 2 1/2 pounds)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 medium onion
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves or ½ teaspoon dried
1 tablespoon fresh thyme or ½ teaspoon dried
4 garlic cloves
Two 15 1/2-ounce cans white beans
1/2 pound kielbasa, bratwurst or high quality hot dogs
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over high heat in a large skillet with an ovenproof handle until hot; reduce the heat to medium-high. Season the chicken with salt and pepper to taste and add it to the skillet, skin side down; cook for 3 to 4 minutes until browned. Turn and cook the remaining side 2 to 3 minutes, or until browned.
2. Meanwhile, finely chop the onion (about 1 cup). Finely chop the rosemary (about 1 1/2 teaspoons) and thyme (about 1 1/2 teaspoons); combine the rosemary and thyme in a small bowl. Press the garlic (about 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon) into the bowl. Rinse and drain the beans; mash 1 cup beans in a small bowl with a fork. Cut the kielbasa in half lengthwise and then crosswise into 1/2-inch thick rounds.
3. Remove the chicken to a plate using tongs; drain off and discard all but 1 tablespoon of the fat from the skillet. Reduce the heat to medium-low; add the onion and cook 5 minutes, or until it has softened. Add the herb and garlic mixture and cook for 2 minutes. Add the red wine and simmer over low heat until it has reduced by half.
4. Return the chicken to the skillet along with any juices that have accumulated on the plate. Add the kielbasa, chicken stock, both the mashed and the whole beans, and the mustard; bring the mixture to a simmer. Cover the pan and simmer 15 minutes, or until the chicken has just cooked through. While the chicken is cooking preheat the broiler.
5. Toss the bread crumbs with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Remove the lid of the skillet; season the mixture to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the bread crumbs evenly over the top. Put the skillet under the broiler, about 4 inches from the heat source and broil 45 to 60 seconds, until the crumbs are golden.
Cassoulet is to southwest France as chili is to Texas or the baked bean is to Boston – a defining source of local pride. A rich, hearty stew consisting of white beans, roast pork, sausage, and duck or goose, cassoulet has been described by Paula Wolfert, a respected cookbook author and authority on the food of southwest France, as “the ultimate slow food” because it can literally take days to make. Indeed, cooking the dish for so long is what gives it its tremendous depth of flavor. Seeing cassoulet listed on the menu of one of his favorite restaurants in Paris, Ernest Hemingway once wrote, “It made me hungry to read the name.” I have made a very simplified version here, appropriate for a weeknight meal.
There have been several good biographies written about Julia Child, but my favorite is the one she wrote herself in conjunction with her nephew, Alex Prudhomme, right before she died called “My Time in France,” published by Knopf. If you are a Julia fan, you must read it; it will make you laugh.