- Soak the beans in a large pot in cold water for 8 hours. Drain and cover with another 3 litres fresh water.
- Bring to a boil. Cover pot with lid and simmer for one hour or until beans are fork tender but not splitting open. Drain. Lightly mash one-quarter of the beans with a potato masher to release starch to thicken the sauce. Set aside.
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Brown chicken thighs; remove and set aside.
- Slice the onion and minced the garlic and sauté in pan until softened.
- Add diced tomatoes, wine, basil, sage, bay leaf, freshly ground black pepper, whole cloves and red pepper flakes and simmer 5 minutes.
- Add browned chicken pieces and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. Remove and discard bay leaf.
- Combine cooked beans with the sauce from the skillet (mixture should be very moist; if necessary add more wine or water).
- In large casserole, spread half of the bean mixture, top with chicken and then the remaining beans and sauce.
- Make fresh bread crumbs by ripping whole grain bread into very small pieces (i.e., smaller than dime size). Use clean hands to work butter or margarine into fresh bread crumbs and then toss in fresh parsley; sprinkle over casserole.
- Bake, uncovered, in a pre-heated 350ºF (180ºC) oven for 45 minutes or until bubbling and top is golden brown.
A nutritious recipe makeover of a classic French comfort dish using lean chicken and traditional Navy beans. Cassoulet is usually made with higher fat meats such as sausage, goose, lamb and/or pork.