Jerry Douglas Inspires Chicken & Bean Stew

This recipe and comments appeared in 2005 in my very first blog in the online community of singer, Maura O'Connell's, website.  As a result of Maura's generosity and that community's enthusiasm, my first blog now has well over 104,000 views.  How did that happen?  What follows is a lightly edited version of that post.

Well, this might be stretching things a little, BUT after a wonderful performance at The Bohemian Cafe (Greenville, South Carolina) recently, I met internationally known Dobro player, Jerry Douglas. (What a NICE person! I think he smiled throughout his performance and through all the meeting fans, autographing CDs and being photographed.) Anyway, somehow I wound up at Garner's Natural Foods Market and was inspired to purchase a few things for making a chicken, kale and white bean stew. Yup, just built a recipe out of the fresh meat and produce that I found there. Some people play the Dobro and some people compose meals. Both outputs FEED people, just different parts. Jerry works on your ears and soul and I work on your belly--kind of a soul thing too, in some ways.'s the recipe inspired by Jerry Douglas.

Jerry Douglas White Bean & Kale Chicken Stew

1 cups dry white beans (Great Northern is what I use)

1 2-3 lb organic chicken
1 gallon water
2 cloves garlic, chopped
salt & pepper

2 large leeks (greens cut off) sliced length-wise and washed thoroughly*
1 medium yellow onion
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 small bunch kale (about 5 cups chopped), washed and chopped**
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup Italian parsley, chopped
salt & pepper

2 T. Italian parsley, chopped

Fill pot with water, add beans, heat until boiling. No salt, as it toughens the beans. Allow to boil for 5 minutes and remove from heat. Allow beans to soak for about 1 hour. Return pot to heat, bring to the boil and reduce heat to med-low for a slow bubbling. Continue to cook for about 30-45 minutes. Drain. Beans should still be a little firm to the tooth.

Combine gallon of water, chicken, garlic and salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, reduce heat to med-high and continue to cook for one hour. Remove the scum that rises to the top. Remove chicken and set aside. Reserve chicken stock.

Wipe out pot with paper towel. Place pot back over high heat and pour in olive oil, garlic, leeks, and onions, stirring until lightly wilted. Add kale and stir to coat with oil and other ingredients. When kale is lightly wilted, add salt and lots of freshly cracked black pepper and 1 cup of parsley. Add the partially cooked beans. Pour back into pot the reserved chicken stock, stir, cover and reduce heat to medium. This should take about 30 minutes.

While the vegetables and beans are cooking, de-bone the chicken and cut into large natural chunks, not tiny and uniform pieces. Taste and add more salt and pepper, if needed.

When beans and kale are cooked, add the remaining 2 T. parsley and chicken. Allow to cook further for 5 minutes and remove from heat. 

*If they're available, otherwise, add another onion.
**I use Lacinato Kale, a Tuscan variety, because it's not as coarse as the regular, very curly variety.