This recipe appears in:The Food Lab: Crispy Braised Chicken With White Beans and Chile Verde
Note: If Anaheim chiles are unavailable, use a mix of cubanelle and poblano peppers.
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- 1 pound small white beans, rinsed and picked over
- Kosher salt
- 2 quarts homemade or store-bought low sodium chicken broth
- 2 bay leaves
- 3/4 pound Hatch (Anaheim) chiles (see note above)
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 4 chicken legs
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 large onion, thinly sliced (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 4 medium cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander seed
- 1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro leaves, plus more for garnish
- 1 tablespoon juice from 1 lime, plus 1 extra lime divided into 8 wedges
- Sour cream or Mexican crema for serving
Cover white beans with 1 gallon (4 quarts) water. Add 1/4 cup salt and stir until dissolved. Cover and let rest at room temperature at least 8 hours and up to 24. Drain and rinse beans.
Place beans in a large pot and add chicken broth and 1 bay leaf. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally and topping up with water to keep beans submerged until beans are tender but still slightly firm in the center, about 45 minutes. Drain beans, reserving liquid in a large bowl.
While beans cook, roast chiles directly over an open gas flame until charred on all sides, about 5 minutes per chile. Transfer chiles to a covered bowl or a heavy paper bag as they are ready and seal tightly. Alternatively, broil chiles on a rimmed baking sheet 6 inches from broiler element, turning until charred on all sides and transfer to a covered bowl or a heavy paper bag. Once all chiles are cooked, keep sealed for 15 minutes to allow them to steam. Transfer steamed chiles to bowl with drained bean cooking liquid.
Peel and de-seed the chiles submerged under the bean cooking liquid. Transfer the flesh to a cutting board, leaving the charred skin and seeds behind. Once all chiles are peeled, carefully strain and reserve liquid. Discard skins and seeds. Roughly chop chile flesh. Set chopped chiles and liquid aside.
Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Heat oil in a large straight-sided sautée pan over high heat until shimmering. Season chicken with salt and pepper and place in pan skin side-down. Cook without moving until well browned on first side, about 8 minutes. Flip and brown lightly on second side, about 4 minutes longer. Transfer chicken to a large plate.
Add onions and garlic to pan and cook, stirring constantly and scraping up browned bits with a wooden spoon until softened, about 6 minutes. Add cumin and coriander and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add chopped chilies and reserved bean cooking/chili soaking liquid. Bring to a simmer and cook until reduced by 1/3, about 10 minutes. Stir in cilantro and 1 tablespoon lime juice. Sauce should be relatively thick. If watery, allow to reduce until there is no water pooling at the top of the pan.
Transfer contents to the jar of a blender, food processor, or a large bowl with a hand blender. Pulse until roughly pureed. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Return chile sauce to sauté pan and stir in the cooked beans and remaining bay leaf. Nestle chicken into beans leaving the skin exposed and transfer to the oven. Cook, uncovered, until chicken is completely tender and skin is very crisp, and beans are cooked through, about 45 minutes. Sprinkle with extra cilantro and serve immediately with lime wedges and sour cream.