Lemon Braised Chicken & Beans with Mint Pesto



It was the pictures that first drew me in, you should see them, and then the flavour combo of lemon, dill, and mint sealed the deal. Who wouldn’t like warm, creamy beans topped with tender chicken that has been kissed by a fresh burst of mint? This dish would be nothing without the mint, so don’t overlook the pesto portion of this recipe. It made me long for that parsley & mint pesto I made earlier this summer; I need to make that one again!


This is such a great recipe for early to mid-fall, though the original recipe describes it as a summer dish, worthy of turning the oven on for. I think I prefer it for those days that seem shorter and are most definitely cooler, those days when the craving for warm, comforting food has taken up permanent residence in my thoughts.


Note that the beans need to soak for at least 12 hours, so plan ahead!


Lemon Braised Chicken & Beans with Mint Pesto


1 pound dried small white beans, such as flageolet
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 small white onion, diced 
2 lemons
2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2/3 cup finely chopped dill fronds


Place the dried beans in a large bowl and cover them with water. Soak for 24 hours, or at least overnight — topping up the water as the beans soak it up. Drain the beans and set aside.


Heat the oven to 350°F. In a 4-quart (or larger) Dutch oven or heavy ovenproof pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring frequently, until they are tender and the onion is nearly translucent. Add the drained beans and stir to coat the beans with the garlic, onion, and oil. Turn off the heat.


Take a sharp vegetable peeler and carefully peel one of the lemons. Peel it in wide strips, taking care that you remove only the top yellow layer of peel — you do not want any of the bitter white pith. Add all of this shaved lemon peel to the beans and stir. Juice the lemon and add the juice to the beans. (Reserve the second lemon for later.)


Pat the chicken dry, and lightly salt and pepper it. Lay it on top of the beans in the Dutch oven. Add water until it covers the beans and comes up to just below the chicken. Lay the thyme sprigs on top. Turn the heat to high and bring the water to a simmer. Cover the pot and put it in the oven.


Bake for 1 1/2 hours, or until the beans are very tender and creamy.

Slow Cooker Variation: Cook the garlic and onion as directed above, and stir in the soaked and drained beans. Transfer to a slow cooker insert. Pat the chicken dry, and lightly salt and pepper it. Lay it on top of the beans in the slow cooker. Add boiling water until it covers the beans and comes up to just below the chicken. Lay the thyme sprigs on top. Cook on LOW for 8 hours or until beans are tender, then proceed with the remaining steps in recipe.


Remove the lid from the pot, and take out the chicken and put it to the side on a plate. Remove the thyme stalks. Zest and juice the second lemon, and stir the zest and juice, along with the chopped dill fronds, into the beans. Shred or chop the chicken and place it back on top of the beans. Top with the mint pesto (recipe follows) and serve.


To serve, scoop up a spoon of beans, and top with chicken. Make sure each serving has a dollop of pesto as well. Serve with a green salad, and good bread to soak up the sauce.



Mint Pesto

4 packed cups mint leaves
1/3 cup blanched almonds
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1/4 cup olive oil, plus more if necessary
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


Blend all the ingredients in a small food processor or chopper until finely chopped. If not using immediately, store in the refrigerator with plastic wrap completely covering and touching the surface of the pesto to prevent oxidization.


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