Lemon Braised Chicken + Beans with Mint Pesto

July 25, 2011

I fell in love with the idea of this meal over a week ago and set my heart on making it. Then a week of intense summer heat and humidity happened and there was simply no way in hell I was going to let my oven run at 350F for an hour and a flipping half.

Yet, still I craved the fall-apart braised chicken, the creamy beans, the lemony brightness, and another excuse to use that forest green mint pesto*.

Beans are soaked overnight, then drained and set aside while you cook up some onion and garlic in olive oil. The beans mix in along with some lemon peel and juice.

Chicken thighs are seasoned and loaded on top of the beans with fresh thyme. The whole pot is brought to a simmer (breathe it in) in water before you pop it in the oven to do its thing.

After an hour and a half of cooking, when the beans are creamy and tender beyond belief, you pull it out and add more lemon before removing the chicken.

Once shredded, the chicken is returned to the pot and a lovely dollop of mint pesto is added.

*I had every intention of using the mint pesto I made last week but sadly when I retrieved it from the fridge, it had gone bad. Super sad. Luckily, this dish stands up perfectly well on its own, but if you can then surely make the pesto. I left it in the recipe knowing how much creaminess , texture, and flavour it could potentially add. This makes a healthy, hearty Summer supper full of wow. Yep, that’s a real thing.

Lemon Braised Chicken + Beans with Mint Pesto

adapted from The Kitchn

serves 6 to 8

  • 1 pound dried small white beans, such as flageolet
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small white onion, diced
  • 2 lemons
  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • Several tablespoons of mint pesto, to serve
  1. Place the dried beans in a large bowl and cover them with water. Soak for 24 hours, or at least overnight — topping up the water as the beans soak it up. Drain the beans and set aside.
  2. Heat the oven to 350°F. In a 4-quart (or larger) Dutch oven or heavy ovenproof pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring frequently, until they are tender and the onion is nearly translucent. Add the drained beans and stir to coat the beans with the garlic, onion, and oil. Turn off the heat.
  3. Take a sharp vegetable peeler and carefully peel one of the lemons. Peel it in wide strips, taking care that you remove only the top yellow layer of peel — you do not want any of the bitter white pith. Add all of this shaved lemon peel to the beans and stir. Juice the lemon and add the juice to the beans. (Reserve the second lemon for later.)
  4. Pat the chicken dry, and lightly salt and pepper it. Lay it on top of the beans in the Dutch oven. Add water until it covers the beans and comes up to just below the chicken. Lay the thyme sprigs on top. Turn the heat to high and bring the water to a simmer. Cover the pot and put it in the oven.
  5. Bake for 1 1/2 hours, or until the beans are very tender and creamy.
  6. Remove the lid from the pot, and take out the chicken and put it to the side on a plate. Remove the thyme stalks. Zest and juice the second lemon, and stir the zest and juice into the beans. Shred or chop the chicken and place it back on top of the beans. Top with the mint pesto (recipe here) and serve.
  7. To serve, scoop up a spoon of beans, and top with chicken. Make sure each serving has a dollop of pesto as well. Serve with a green salad, and good bread to soak up the sauce.
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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Sarah@The Flying ONION July 25, 2011 at 8:30 am

I am so into pesto lately! I’ve been using it to dress up my salmon, in addition to layering it into my quesadillas. It’s so delicious. So *summery!*

This recipe sounds wonderful! :D


Adrianna from A Cozy Kitchen July 25, 2011 at 1:14 pm

Dishes like this are part of the reasons I’m so ready for fall to arrive. I’d loove this right now!


Ruth July 25, 2011 at 1:49 pm

question re: #3 – “Add all of this shaved lemon peel to the beans and stir.” Do you mean peel it like a potato so there’s a bunch of yellow strips in the beans?


Angharad July 25, 2011 at 2:05 pm

Yes, exactly! The strips should be as wide as possible but avoid any white pith. When it cooks for an hour and a half these lemon “strips” will soften and be absolutely delicious!


sofia July 25, 2011 at 9:01 pm

oh yum. this recipe speaks to me. or yells at me, rather. love the richness of chicken thighs. i’ll have to add this to my list!


holly August 8, 2011 at 9:56 am

your description of this has me salivating at my computer – you always manage to put together such a lovely cacophony of words that never fails to make me drool. thank you for that.


Susan February 9, 2013 at 6:52 am

I love the sound of this dish. If serving as a main course what would you suggest to round out the menu?
Will review after I have made it.
Thank You


Susan February 9, 2013 at 6:55 am

Sorry about the previous question. I missed the suggestion of green salade and good bread at the end.


MarryM December 4, 2014 at 4:46 am

I am so full having just finished this delicious meal. I halved the recipe but still used a large Dutch oven so there was no liquid left and the meal was a bit dry. Next time I will check it throughout the cooking and add more liquid as necessary or use a smaller pot. Love the lemon & bean combo. Thank you.


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