Why It Works
- Rendering the bacon provides the fat needed to sauté the onions and garlic, infusing the stew with subtle meaty richness.
- Melting in the anchovies and cooking the rabe in the stew ups the funk factor for a one-pot meal that's flavorful and robust.
In true raid-the-pantry style, this rustic chickpea stew gets its layers of flavor from the kinds of ingredients we like to keep stocked in the cupboard, fridge, or freezer.
It starts by sautéing smoky bacon—which we try to always stock in our freezer for moments like this—until its given up much of its porky fat to the pot. Then, we fry a hefty mound of onions and garlic in the rendered fat. Fresh rosemary goes in next, and then a generous pile of anchovies (feel free to increase or decrease the number of anchovy fillets based on your own tastes). The anchovies melt, and add a savory, briny backbone to the stew. If you don't have rosemary, don't fret. You can use another woodsy herb like sage or thyme, or even some dried oregano (just use less of the dried stuff).
Then the chickpeas go in to stew. We prefer to use dried garbanzos that we've cooked ourselves since they have the best flavor and most flavorful cooking liquid, but canned chickpeas work here too. In keeping with the beans-and-greens theme we're such big fans of here at Serious Eats, the chickpeas are stewed with bitter broccoli rabe, which mellows and takes on a sweet edge the longer it's cooked. If you don't have rabe, you could use another hearty green like kale or escarole, broccolini, or even regular broccoli; even frozen versions of these vegetables could work, they'd just need a shorter cooking time to become tender.
- 4 ounces (115g) thick-cut bacon (about 4 rashers), cut crosswise into 1/4-inch strips
- 1 medium red or yellow onion (8-ounce; 225g), cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 4 medium cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
- 1 ounce (30g) oil-packed anchovy fillets (about 10 fillets)
- 5 cups cooked chickpeas (2 pounds; 1kg) plus 2 cups (475ml) chickpea cooking liquid (see note)
- 1 bunch (about 1 pound; 450g) broccoli rabe, stem ends trimmed and cut into 1-inch lengths
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Extra-virgin-olive oil, for drizzling
- Calabrian chili paste or other chili paste, for serving (optional)
In a medium pot or Dutch oven, cook bacon over medium heat, stirring often, until fat has mostly rendered and bacon is lightly browned, about 6 minutes. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring often, until it is soft and lightly golden, about 6 minutes longer. Stir in rosemary and cook for 1 minute.
Add anchovies and cook, stirring constantly, until anchovies are mostly dissolved, about 30 seconds. Add chickpeas and their cooking liquid along with broccoli rabe and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to maintain simmer and cook, stirring frequently, until broccoli rabe is very tender and liquid has thickened to a saucy consistency, 10 to 15 minutes; if chickpeas become too dry, add additional bean-cooking liquid or water to loosen slightly. Season with salt and pepper.
Spoon chickpeas into bowls with their sauce, lightly drizzle with olive oil, and serve with chili paste, if desired.
Medium (roughly 4 or 5 quart) pot or Dutch oven
5 cups of cooked chickpeas comes from roughly 1 pound dried (this will vary depending on the brand of chickpea you buy; in our testing some 1-pound bags of chickpeas have yielded as much as 7 cups beans). You can use canned chickpeas in this recipe as well; they won't be quite as delicious as ones cooked from dried, but this bean stew has enough flavor to more than make up for it. If you do, you'll want to use three or four 15-ounce cans of chickpeas along with the bean liquid in the can plus as much water as necessary to make 2 cups in total; three 15-ounce cans will contribute slightly less chickpeas to the stew than the 5 cups called for in the recipe, while four cans will add about 1 cup more chickpeas—it won't make a big difference, though you may need to add more liquid for a four-can batch.
Make-Ahead and Storage
The stew an be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days. When reheating, you may need to add a small amount of water to thin it to your desired consistency.