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Chicken and White-Bean Cassoulet

While delicious, French cassoulets are traditionally high in calories and animal fat, owing to the inclusion of sausages, duck and pork. This low-calorie version substitutes chicken breasts for those fatty meats. The recipe gets its great taste from using bone-in chicken breasts with the skin left on (but later removed), which yields a rich broth. It also emphasizes using dry beans, to avoid the excess sodium in canned beans. Note that the beans do need to be soaked the night before!


1 cup dry Great Northern beans
1 tablespoon (tbs) olive oil
2 medium fennel bulbs, each cut into 8 narrow wedges
1 red onion, cut into 8 narrow wedges
2 bone-in chicken breast halves with skin on (11/2 pounds total)
1 cup dry-packaged sundried tomatoes, cut into thin strips
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon (tsp) salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tbs grated orange zest
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can reduced-sodium chicken broth
3 tbs fresh orange juice
2 tbs minced fresh parsley

Rinse beans and place in large bowl; cover with cold water. Allow to stand overnight. Drain and place in saucepan. Add fresh cold water to cover beans, and heat to a boil. Cover and reduce heat, simmering 30–40 minutes or until just tender. Drain cooked beans, and set aside.

Heat olive oil in ovenproof Dutch oven with tight-fitting lid; cook over medium-high heat. Add fennel and red onion, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove vegetables from pan, and set aside.

Add chicken to Dutch oven, skin side down, and cook until browned, about 6 minutes. Turn and brown second side, about 4 minutes. Remove chicken, and drain any liquid.

Combine cooked beans and cooked veggies, plus garlic and tomatoes, in Dutch oven. Place cooked chicken on top. Add remaining ingredients, except for the orange juice and parsley. Cover and bake in oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 30–35 minutes, or until chicken reaches 180 degrees and beans are tender.

Remove chicken to discard skin; slice meat and return it to bean mixture. Stir in orange juice, and top with parsley. Makes six servings.

Per Serving: 395 calories; 5 grams (g) fat; 38 g protein; 52 g carbs; 38 g protein; 14 g fiber; 53 milligrams (mg) cholesterol; 753 mg sodium.

Source: McClatchy Newspapers 2007.

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