One Skillet Braised Chicken Thighs with Spinach and White Beans

December 22, 2016 | | | | |

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braised-chicken-thighs-with-spinach-white-beansI’ve developed a new obsession, and it’s scaring me. Literally.

A few weeks ago, a friend told me about this podcast she’s into called My Favorite Murder. (Not to be confused with the Making a Murderer podcast spawned by the Netflix docuseries on Steven Avery. Although that is also decent.) She described it as a “funny true crime series” and suggested I start listening because I “like weird stuff” and would “probably get a kick out of it.” Thanks.

I wrote the name in my phone to be polite, but honestly, I didn’t really plan to listen to it. I went through a big podcast phase last year when I discovered the first season of Serial (approximately a year after everyone else) and was like, “Podcasts shall be my new thing!!” Then I listened to season 2, hated it—the Bergdahl story line simultaneously upset me and bored me to tears—and immediately wrote off all podcasts in favor of tackling seven seasons of The West Wing.

However, since I’ve now finished The West Wing, and all my other shows are on hiatus until January, I decided to revisit the podcast realm last week and give My Favorite Murder a shot…

braised-chicken-thighs-with-spinach-white-beans-2HOLY [insert chain of excited/complimentary expletives]!!!!!

One week later, I’m 20 (1+ hour) episodes deep, a veritable murder connoisseur, and madly in love with two women in LA that I’ve never met. For real.

I don’t want to bore you with too many details, but MFM is ridiculous in an awesome, super fucked up kinda way. It’s hosted by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark, two true crime obsessed, stand-up comedienne besties, and they are deeply disturbed and hilarious. Every week, they both share their “favorite murder” in a specific category—i.e. 80s, cannibalism, celebrity, etc.—and then discuss the crimes in detail. It’s so wrong, but so right. (The show’s tagline is “Stay sexy. Don’t get murdered.” They kill me. Muahaha.)

braised-chicken-thighs-with-spinach-white-beans-3If you hate true crime or are easily offended (I can’t imagine the latter applies to many of the people reading this blog?), MFM is obviously not for you. But to everyone else, you should definitely listen to it ASAFP. I legit laugh out loud multiple times an hour, and I’m not an easy laugh. (Shocking, I know.)

Anyhoo, I’ve been listening to MFM during all my daily activities. And despite the humor, it’s still really, really SCARY. I like that, duh, but ever since my roommate left for family Christmas in Colorado earlier this week, Karen and Georgia have been creeping me out more than usual. I should probably stop listening until Logan returns, but I can’t. (I told you, I’m obsessed.) Instead, I’ve just been taking extra measures to combat the creepiness. Like triple checking that the front door is locked, watching Parks and Rec before bed, and eating my favorite comfort food feasts like Braised Chicken Thighs with Spinach and White Beans while cocooned on the couch in my Christmas onesie.

braised-chicken-thighs-with-spinach-white-beans-4My efforts are (sort of) working, and I’m really grateful for this chicken, which is the ultimate cozy dinner. Whether you’re trying to shake off murder podcast scaries, holiday family drama, or just the winter cold, fork tender chicken thighs melting into a simple tomato and white bean stew are like a nice big bear hug for your taste buds and your soul. Better still, this one-skillet wonder is made with mostly pantry ingredients, requires about 15 minutes of hands-on prep, and looks very rustic chic served directly out of your cast iron. (These pics really aren’t doing it justice.)

In other exciting news, this (gluten-free) recipe is also packed with health benefits. Between the tomatoes, spinach and beans, it’s extremely high in fiber, antioxidants, and essential vitamins and minerals. And please don’t fear chicken thighs! Thighs get a bad rap, but the truth is, chicken thighs and breasts vary very little in terms of fat and calorie content. Thighs are also significantly cheaper, which is always a plus, and I personally find them much more flavorful than breasts. Get on board.

braised-chicken-thighs-with-spinach-white-beans-5If you want to bulk up the meal a little bit, you can always add some brown rice or quinoa into the mix, but the recipe is shockingly filling as is. I recommend serving it topped with plenty of fresh parsley and shaved Parmesan. Crusty bread and red wine optional, but strongly recommended.

Eat, drink, and be very merry this weekend, friends!!! (And listen to MFM so we can talk about it, dammit.) Love you, mean it.

One-Skillet Braised Chicken Thighs with Spinach and White Beans: (Serves 3-4)

1½ pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs (roughly 6 thighs)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Kosher Salt
Fresh ground black pepper
1 small yellow onion, diced small
3 large garlic cloves, minced
28-ounce can diced fire roasted tomatoes
2 teaspoons dried oregano
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
3 packed cups baby spinach, roughly torn
1 15-ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
For serving: (optional)
Fresh Italian parsley leaves, chopped
Grated Parmesan cheese

Preparing your One-Skillet Braised Chicken Thighs with Spinach and White Beans:

-Season the chicken thighs all over with salt and pepper.

braised-chicken-thighs-with-spinach-white-beans-step-1-Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot and shimmering (but not smoking!), add the chicken thighs to the pan and cook until lightly browned on both sides, about 3-4 minutes per side. Be careful not to move the thighs for at least 3 minutes after you’ve added them to the pan or the meat may stick to the pan/tear. (As you can see in this pic, I was impatient and tore my thighs a little bit. Do as I say, not as I do.)

braised-chicken-thighs-with-spinach-white-beans-step-2-Transfer the browned chicken thighs to a plate and briefly set aside.

-Reduce the heat to medium. Add the onion and cook for 3-4 minutes until softened and translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute until fragrant.

braised-chicken-thighs-with-spinach-white-beans-step-3-Stir in the diced tomatoes oregano, and crushed red pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer.

braised-chicken-thighs-with-spinach-white-beans-step-4-Add the spinach and cook until just wilted, about 1 minute, then stir in the cannellini beans. Taste and season with a little salt if necessary.

braised-chicken-thighs-with-spinach-white-beans-step-5-Return the chicken thighs to the skillet. (Really nestle them in there, peeps.)

braised-chicken-thighs-with-spinach-white-beans-step-6-Cover and cook for 30 minutes until the chicken is very tender. Serve warm garnished with parsley and Parmesan if you’re feeling fancy.


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  1. Shawn'ee on July 8, 2020 at 5:44 am

    This dish came out AMAZING! I did add a little seasoning to the pot. This dish left me.feeling light instead of feeling like I just consumed 4 burgers. Great dish for a diet

  2. Kelly on March 1, 2017 at 6:20 pm

    Hi Serena! I’m not a big fan of cannellini beans. What do you think about chickpeas as a substitution?

    • Serena Wolf on March 1, 2017 at 6:36 pm

      Do it!! Chickpeas will be delicious!

  3. Hannah G on December 29, 2016 at 3:07 pm

    girllllllllll MFM is the best. if you want something not scary but equally interesting and funny, “The Dollop” is awesome. I kind of consider it like a brother podcast to MFM… it’s two stand-up dudes in LA, and one tells the other a wacky true story from American history while his buddy comments on it. smart, funny, and I always learn something. plus, fun fact, Dave from the Dollop and Karen from MFM used to date! (it’s fine I’m not a podcast stalker it’s fine.)

    • Serena Wolf on December 29, 2016 at 3:40 pm

      Yessss, fellow murderino. I have heard of The Dollop (but only because Karen and Georgia mention it from time to time), but now that I have a real live endorsement, I will definitely check it out. Gracias for the tip!!

  4. MissMae on December 26, 2016 at 8:15 pm

    Now I just need to check out the murder podcasts!

  5. MissMae on December 26, 2016 at 8:13 pm

    Yes, must be thighs and deglaze with a good red before adding fire-roasted tomatoes. Eighty-four year old dude loved it (father) so did 64 year old dude (spousal-unit). Made me believe I was back in Tuscany. Delicious and will make again.

    • Serena Wolf on December 29, 2016 at 3:38 pm

      Allll about the red wine deglaze. Excellent call. Thrilled this was a hit with you and your dudes!!

  6. horseofcourse66 on December 26, 2016 at 7:17 pm

    I am also in the thigh boat (that sounds really wrong ha) and red wine is a given! Will totally try this as my fiance who is the pickiest person ever will eat everything in it.

    • Serena Wolf on December 29, 2016 at 3:38 pm

      Thighs for the win!! Hope this is a huge hit with the fiancé!

  7. Susan Stone on December 22, 2016 at 5:16 pm

    I will be going nowhere near your podcast, as I don’t like scary, creepy or adrenaline rushes. I haven’t been listening to podcasts anyway, but it’s good to have the warning about this one. And if I make this chicken it will be with breasts – neither my husband nor I care much for thighs (I always get negative comments from him when I try them). This seems like a nice, simple dish. I like easy and tasty.

  8. S Wilson on December 22, 2016 at 3:41 pm

    You can always use the cast iron skillet as a weapon.

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