Roast Chicken with White Beans and Black Kale

Joe Bliffen • Hoof Truck

For the brine:

1 gallon cold water

1 cup and 2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/4 cup pure cane sugar

zest and juice of 2 lemons

1 head of garlic, smashed but not peeled

2 sprigs of rosemary, roughly chopped

One whole chicken

For the beans:

Dried navy beans

1 teaspoon baking soda

For the white bean puree:

2 cups cooked navy beans

1/2 cups chicken stock (preferably homemade)

2 cloves of garlic, sliced thin or minced

2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

salt & lemon to taste

For the marinated white beans:

1/2 cup cooked navy beans

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

juice of 2 lemons

finely chopped zest of 1 preserved lemon (optional)

salt & pepper to taste

For the kale:

2 bunches black kale (sometimes called Tuscan kale or lacinato)

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper

salt & pepper to taste

For the pan jus:

1 cup chicken stock

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 sprigs fresh rosemary

salt, pepper & lemon to taste


Cast iron pan

A brick, cleaned well & wrapped in foil

The evening before:

Prepare the bird by removing the neck and backbone. Place the chicken on your cutting board with the breasts facing up. Leaving the skin on, half the chicken by following the breastbone down and around each breast. Next, find the joint that connects the thighbone to the back and split the joint. This will leave you with two halves, each with a breast, thigh & leg. Reserve the neck and back for stock.

Combine all ingredients for the brine in a large glass bowl and whisk until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Place the chicken into a large zip top bag and pour in the brine to cover. Place in a tall sided glass baking dish and put into your refrigerator for at least 8 hours, or overnight.

If using dried beans (recommended), place 2 cups of beans into a large glass or plastic container and cover with water by at least 3 inches. Soak overnight in the refrigerator.

The day of:

Preheat oven to 350 F. Drain your navy beans and place them into a glass baking dish. Cover with water by about 2 inches and add the baking soda. This will keep the beans intact and pretty while they cook. Place the pan in the oven and cook until the beans are tender, 3 to 4 hours.

Meanwhile, blanch your kale. Place a large pot of lightly salted water on the stove and bring to a boil. Set up a bowl of ice water near the stove. While your water comes to a boil, remove the tough stems from the kale and inspect it to make sure it is clean. It may need to be soaked in some cold water for a bit to remove any dirt.

Once the water comes to a boil, submerge the kale into it and cook for about 2 minutes. Using a strainer, remove the kale from the pot and plunge it into the ice water. This will stop the cooking and set a slightly brighter green color. Once the kale is cold, lift it out of the ice water and squeeze out excess water, just like wringing out a towel. Place on a clean cutting board and chop into bite size strips.

Once your beans are tender, remove them from the oven. While still hot, place the 2 cups of beans, 1/2 cup stock, and garlic into the bowl of a blender or food processor. Start on low speed and make sure the opening is covered. Hot food purees better, but also tends to splash around the blender a bit more, so use caution. Once the puree is very smooth, drizzle in the olive oil until the puree glistens. Turn off the blender and taste. Season to your liking. This puree can be kept warm, but make sure that it is tightly covered, as it will develop a skin on top.

Take your reserved beans and place them in a clean bowl or jar and cover with the marinade ingredients. Occasionally stir the beans to redistribute the seasoning.

Remove your chicken from the brine and place on a clean plate. Discard the brine. Pat the chicken dry on both sides with a paper towel.

In a large cast iron pan set over a medium flame, heat about 1 tablespoon of oil until it easily slides across the pan. Place your two pieces of chicken into the pan, skin side down, being sure not to crowd the pan. Place your brick onto the chicken (you can use another heavy pan if you do not have a brick). Cook for about 5 minutes, then slide the pan into your 350 F oven. Cook for another 12 minutes or so in the oven then remove the pan back to the stove top. Remove the brick (it will be hot), and flip your chicken so that the skin is now facing up. It should be lightly golden brown and crispy.

Once again, set your stovetop to medium. Add the butter and the fresh rosemary to the pan and baste your chicken with the butter as it begins to melt. After about 5 more minutes, the chicken should be fully cooked and a bit darker. Remove the chicken to a clean plate to rest.

Toss your kale into the same hot cast iron pan and allow it to get slightly dark on one side. Season with salt, pepper & crushed red pepper and stir around the pan until reheated and slightly crispy. Add the 1 cup of chicken stock and turn your flame down to a low simmer.

Set out 2 large dinner plates. Spoon half of your bean puree onto the center of each. Using a slotted spoon, remove the kale from the pan and place onto the puree. Next, place your chicken skin side up onto the kale. By this point the juice left in the pan should thick and flavorful, but taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. Spoon the pan jus onto the chicken and around the plate. Finally, garnish each plate with a few of the marinated beans. They will be quite bright and acidic, but will provide a nice balance for the richness of the rest of the dish.​