We ate the best chicken last night!
Maybe I'm waxing hyperbolic because I enjoyed so much the change from good old roast chicken, but it really was exceptional, if I do say so myself.
As I often do, I browsed the interwebs for a way to use a can of Navy beans that I had on hand, a can of Southwest style tomatoes with chiles that our Cora-sitter left behind, and some leftover Massa rice. It was cold and rainy (again! still!) and I really wanted to do something with my chicken that would incorporate the warmth and color of those tomatoes.
I almost had the ingredients for Tuscan Chicken, but no fennel/anise in the house - and Tuscan cuisine doesn't usually include chilis - but that's the fun of cooking, isn't it? The freedom to dump in whatever you have on hand and see if you like it.
We loved it! We loved it so much that we ate sparingly, hoping there would be enough left to share with our house guest, who is supposed to arrive today, weather and her health allowing.
So, it was almost Tuscan, but not quite. The beans and rice were there and I used tarragon, hoping for a hint of licorice, but the smoked paprika and chiles definitely veered the dish into a spicier direction and the sausages were not Italian. The tomatoes were warming to the soul and the eye. The gentle spiciness warmed our rain-soaked hearts. No wonder we were extravagant in our praise.
Anyway, try it yourself and see what you think.
Almost Tuscan Chicken
2 Tablespoons bacon fat
1 Tablespoon canola oil
1 chicken, cut into serving-size pieces (I left out the back and used that to make stock)
1 large onion, cut in half and sliced into lengthwise wedges
3 large shallots, peeled and chunked
15 ounce can of Navy beans, drained
10 ounce can of Southwest style diced tomatoes with green chiles
Generous sprinklings of pepper, dried tarragon and smoked paprika
1 cup leftover brown rice
3 chicken apple sausages, cut into 1" chunks
Chicken broth as needed
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
In the mixture of oils in a wide frying pan, brown the chicken pieces until richly golden-brown. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, mix the rice, beans, tomatoes together. Set aside. In the same frying pan used to brown the chicken, toss the sausages to brown lightly, then add the onions and shallots and toss over medium high heat to coat with the pan juices and to cook just a little. Season with paprika, tarragon and pepper. Add the beans/rice/tomato mixture and mix, scraping up any chickeny bits from the bottom. Pour into a large baking pan and place the browned chicken pieces on top. If there is little moisture in the bottom of the pan, add a splash of chicken broth.
Bake in the 375 degree oven until the chicken is done, perhaps 30-40 minutes (depends on how browned you got the chicken). Serve the chicken on a bed of the bean mixture with some good bread to mop up the incredible goozle.