Well, here we are. The presents are gone from under the tree. The stockings are empty. Embers are still burning in the wood stove. Shreds of wrapping paper litter the house. Four empty bottles of André are scattered on the living room floor. I woke up on the couch with a gift bag on my head and a Katzenjammer the size of Texas. Goodbye, Christmas. You sure were fun.
The past four days – oh, who am I kidding? – the past four weeks have included so much cooking, so much eating, and so much dietary debauchery that the last thing I want to do tonight is cook a fussy, involved dinner. I also don’t feel like eating leftovers from yesterday’s meal, or anything that even remotely resembles ham, mashed potatoes or fruit cake.
A few days ago, Hubs came in from the (rather pitiful, droopy and miserable-looking) garden carrying a handful of our purple dragon carrots we planted back in August. I had poked around in the carrot patch a few months ago – I didn’t find much but a few squirrely carrots and a lot of carrot tops with no carrots attached. Granted, the little gems Hubs unearthed were still a little on the squirrely side, but they tasted divine – perfectly sweet and crunchy.
For Christmas this year, my dear brother-in-law Sage gifted us with a hefty slab of home-cured, home-smoked bacon. With my eyes as wide as saucers, I wiped the drool from my chin as he repeatedly warned us that it may be “too smoky” and “too strong” to be enjoyed on its own, but that would compliment a pot of beans or soup quite nicely. Right you were, Sage-a-Roonie. Oh, how right you were.
I thought roasted chicken would be a nice way to end the long holiday weekend – something delicious, easy to cook, and perfect for dinner Monday night, which is the designated “leftover night” around the Hobbs House. I had a Little Portion Monastery chicken thawing out, which I’d bought at Richard’s Meat Market not too long ago.
Instead of making a traditional roast chicken like I did for a Foodie 101 last year, I changed things up a bit. Flipping through a recent issue of Real Simple magazine (Hello? Real Simple, if you’re reading this, I love you. Marry me. Too much? Fine. Hire me.), I saw a quick weeknight recipe for braised chicken thighs with beans and tomatoes. Per usual, my mind’s gears started turning.
I removed the backbone from the chicken and splayed it open, which makes it quicker to roast and easier to cut when you’re ready to eat. I laid the chicken over a bed of cannellini beans, whole grape tomatoes, our petite carrots and some of Sage’s bacon roughly chopped up. I drizzled everything with olive oil, salt and pepper, and poured a few splashes of white wine over the whole thing. Into the oven it went, until the bacon chunks were sizzling, the chicken skin was browned and crispy, and the beans and tomatoes were bubbling in wine and juices.
This dinner is about as hands-off as it gets, and the results make it look like you slaved all afternoon. Serve this hearty dish with crusty bread to soak up the delicious sauce, and reward yourself for all your hard work this holiday season. Ready to do it all again next year? Is the last sentence dripping with sarcasm? Enjoy!
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Chicken & Bean Bake
1 small-medium whole chicken, rinsed, patted dry, and backbone removed
2 cans cannellini beans, rinsed & drained
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
1 c. baby carrots, roughly chopped
1/4 c. bacon or pancetta, thickly chopped
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 c. white wine
olive oil, salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 425°. Rinse the chicken under cold water, inside and out. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Cut the backbone out of the chicken and splay open. Liberally rub with olive oil, salt and pepper.
In a 9×13 baking dish, combine the beans, tomatoes, carrots, thyme, oregano and white wine. Season with salt and pepper. Place the splayed chicken on top of the bed of vegetables. Sprinkle the bacon or pancetta on top of the vegetables, around the chicken.
Roast for about an hour, until the chicken skin is crispy and beginning to brown. Allow the chicken to rest for about 10 minutes with aluminum foil loosely tented around it. Cut the chicken into pieces and serve over a bed of the bean and vegetable mixture.
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Laura is a regular contributor for the Fayetteville Flyer. She was born and raised in Fayetteville. She is a self-proclaimed foodie and avid cook. For more of Laura’s contributions, see her Flyer Foodie author page. For more cooking, recipes, and other food-related inspiration, visit Flyer Foodie on Facebook.