Chickeny White Beans and Romaine

When the new cookbook Dynamite Chicken came across my desk, I couldn’t believe my luck…

Here was a book edited by a favorite website (Food52), written by a favorite writer (Tyler Kord), and dedicated to everyone’s favorite, if oft-maligned dinner anchor (chicken). Kord, the wonderfully weird food writer, and chef from New York’s celebrated lunch spot No. 7 is known for oddball combinations (Broccoli subs with pickled lychees? Chocolate-milk-braised chicken thighs?) and is just the guy to bust us all out of our dreaded breaded chicken cutlet rut. The sixty recipes in this book are organized by chapters like “Chicken to Eat When You Are Sad” and “Party Chicken to Impress Guests & Celebrities” and “Winner, Winner, Weeknight Chicken Dinners.”

Here’s what Kord has to say about a dish that fits into all three:

“This is an adaptation of escarole and white beans, a dish that is so perfect it needn’t be improved upon. And I wouldn’t presume to say that I did here — this is just different! Reduce chicken stock with bean broth to create a sticky, awesome glaze; braise chicken legs in the broth before it reduces to get it super fortified; and then toss in some shredded romaine lettuce right at the end because it won’t need a lot of time in the pan like escarole would. The romaine brings some bright-colored, slightly crunchy contrast to an otherwise all-braised dish. Serve this with crusty bread to sop up the broth, and I challenge you to be sad.”

Chickeny White Beans & Wilted Romaine
Serves 4

2 tsp olive oil, plus more for drizzling
2 whole chicken legs (thighs and drumsticks), 1 1⁄2 pounds
1 head garlic, cloves smashed
2 cups chicken stock
1 15-ounce can cannellini beans, no salt added, drained and with canning liquid reserved (or 1 1⁄2 cups cooked cannellini beans, plus 1⁄3 cup reserved bean cooking liquid)
2 tsp kosher salt
1 head romaine lettuce, roughly chopped
1 ounce Parmesan, grated
1 lemon, cut into 8 wedges, for serving

In a large sauté pan with high sides, heat the oil over medium-high heat until smoking. Add the chicken legs, skin-side down. Cook until well browned, 6 to 8 minutes, flip, and cook until the other side is well browned, another 6 to 8 minutes. Turn the heat to low and add the garlic, stirring and cooking until browned, 6 to 8 minutes more. Add the stock, bean liquid, and salt and increase the heat to high. When the mixture comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low and cook until the chicken legs are super tender and the liquid has reduced by half, which can take anywhere from 40 to 55 minutes depending on how big your chicken pieces are.

Add the beans and simmer for 10 minutes, or until they look nicely glazed. Increase the heat to medium and add the lettuce. Stir until the lettuce is wilted and the chicken is hot again. To serve, divide the chicken legs into two. Then ladle the stew into bowls, top with a piece of chicken along with some Parmesan and a little drizzle of oil, and serve with lemon wedges.

Food52 Dynamite Chicken

P.S. Chicken parm meatballs and comforting chicken tortellini soup.

(Photo by James Ransom. Recipe reprinted with permission from Food52 Dynamite Chicken: 60 Never-Boring Recipes for Your Favorite Bird by Tyler Kord, 2019. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House.)