Skillet Chicken with White Beans and Kale
When you’re looking for a simple weeknight chicken recipe that is healthy, hearty, and easy to execute, look no further than skillet chicken with white beans and kale! This one pot dinner comes together quickly and is flavored with garlic, lemon, and capers. A perfect dish to prepare both on busy weeknights or a special date night in!
- chicken thighs (instructions included for both boneless thighs, as well as bone-in skin-on thighs!)
- lacinato kale
- 2 cans white beans (navy, cannelini, northern, etc.)
- low-sodium chicken stock
- kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- schmaltz (rendered chicken fat), optional
Note: I realize that most people do not have schmaltz lying around. That’s totally fine! I keep a little container in my fridge and refill it any time I cook chicken with the skin on and don’t need to use the rendered fat immediately. You could substitute this with bacon fat or leave it out entirely. It adds a lovely depth of flavor that you might not get with the boneless, skinless thighs, but I assure you the recipe is still delicious if you leave it out!
Boneless chicken thighs vs. bone-in skin on thighs
I have tested this recipe with both boneless chicken thighs as well as bone-in skin on thighs, and the results were a bit surprising.
First, they’re both delicious options. If you’re using bone-in skin on thighs, the cook time will be significantly longer. You do, however, get rewarded with super crispy chicken skin at the end! While I am usually an advocate for cooking animal proteins on the bone whenever possible (nothing in the world beats a perfectly medium-rare bone-in ribeye steak, am I right?!), the end result was not significantly more flavorful than when I made the dish with boneless chicken thighs.
For that reason, I’d choose the quicker cook time. Also, it’s easier to eat without the bone! Chalk it up to personal preference. Either way, both work well, and I’ve included instructions below for each.
What about chicken breasts?
Boneless chicken breasts will have a comparable cook time to the bone-in skin on thighs. You can absolutely substitute them here — the braising liquid will help keep them moist — but, in general, I prefer the texture and flavor of chicken thighs.
What to serve this with
NOTHING ELSE NEEDED! This is a one pot dream meal, so no need to serve anything on the side unless you’re craving something like a light green salad! You’ve got your protein, your veggie, and a hearty starch.
This is the type of feel good, healthy meal I crave. It also happens to be special occasion-worthy as far as weeknight chicken dinners go, making it the perfect addition to my Date Night In series! Which brings me to…
As part of my Date Night In series, I’m offering up a few wine suggestions to serve alongside. I have found that wines with an abundant acidity hold up well. When you eat a dish like this — full of lemons, capers, and garlic — the wine you pair with it will end up tasting sweeter. So avoid overly sweet wines from the get go!
Red wine: Pinot Noir (Oregon or Burgundy will have more pronounced acidity than those from California, so stick with the former), Zinfandel, which generally has a high acidity, or Gamay.
Rosé: Pinot Noir rosé (delicate and fruit forward) or, more generally, Provence rosés (I love AIX!), which tend to be crisp, dry, and a bit fruity. Again, nothing too sweet!
White wine: I’d pair this with something light, crisp, and effervescent, such as a steel Chardonnay, Grüner Veltliner (I always think to pair this with chicken picatta — lots of similar notes in this recipe!), or a full-bodied Riesling from Austria or France, with mineral notes. German Riesling I find to be more fruit forward, which is not what I want here.
Skillet chicken with white beans and kale has no business tasting as delicious at it does, and yet here we are! Tips to make this a super successful dinner:
- don’t skimp on the garlic!!!!
- serve the completed dish with a healthy sprinkling of capers — they add the perfect salty, briny bite!
- while it’s not necessary, a few flakes of sea salt on the chicken just before serving adds the best finishing touch!
If you make Skillet Chicken with White Beans and Kale, let me know by leaving a review and rating below!
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For more recipes in my Date Night In series, check out the following:
Skillet Chicken with White Beans and Kale
- Large skillet or dutch oven
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 8 boneless skinless chicken thighs (about ~2 lbs) (instructions for bone-in skin-on thighs below)
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 10 cloves garlic peeled and smashed
- 1 bunch lacinato kale, ribs removed, torn into small pieces
- 2 (15 oz) cans white beans, drained cannelini, navy, or northern beans
- 1 ½ cups low-sodium chicken stock or 1 cup stock + 1 cup dry white wine
- 1/2 lemon thinly sliced
- 4 sprigs fresh oregano plus more for garnish
- 2 Tbsp capers drained
- flaky sea salt for serving, optional
- 2 Tbsp schmaltz optional (see note!)
- Preheat oven to 375F. Heat oil (and schmaltz, if using) in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
- Trim any excess fat from chicken thighs, then season on all sides with kosher salt and black pepper. Carefully place chicken in the hot skillet (it will splatter!) and cook, undisturbed, for 4 minutes. Flip and cook chicken an additional 3 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside on a plate. ((Instructions for cooking bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs and chicken breasts in the notes below.))
- Add smashed garlic cloves, torn kale leaves, and white beans, then toss. Pour in chicken stock (and wine, if using) then give another stir. Nestle chicken thighs (skin side up, if using skin-on) on top of kale and beans, then add lemon slices and oregano. Bake for 10 minutes or until an internal temperature of 165F is reached.
- Top with capers, then sprinkle chicken thighs with a pinch each of flaky sea salt, if using. Serve immediately.
- Schmaltz: rendered chicken fat! If you’re cooking skin-on thighs, this is definitely not necessary. It’s a nice addition with the boneless thighs, but a scoop of bacon fat would be equally delicious! Feel free to omit entirely.
- Kale: if you don’t have kale, you can use any other hearty leafy green, such as swiss chard, mustard greens, or collard greens. Spinach works too, but it will not hold up nearly as well in the braising liquid.
- Stock vs. white wine: you can use 1 ½ cups of chicken stock, 1 ½ cups of white wine, or any combination of the two. Vegetable stock works great too!
- Boneless vs. bone-in chicken: cook time for bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs will be significantly longer than boneless thighs. On the stove top, cook skin side down for 8-10 minutes or until chicken skin pulls away easily from the pan. Flip and cook an additional 3-4 minutes on the second side before continuing with the recipe as written. Braising liquid should not touch crispy chicken skin, so use less liquid if needed. Bone-in thighs will cook 8-10 minutes at 375F. Chicken is safe to eat at a temperature of 165F. You can substitute boneless or bone-in chicken breasts; cook time will be similar to bone-in, skin-on thighs.