Effortless Cassoulet

I always tell people that it amazes me how the three most celebrated French dishes started out as meals created peasants that were prepared in a way that allowed them to slowly cook them and utilize the variety of ingredients they had laying around.  Cassoulet is one such dish and if prepared in the traditional way, would basically take you two days - this version should take you two hours, one cooking on the stove and one in the oven while you have a glass of wine.  I personally believe this version has a lot more flavor as well.  It is surprisingly economical to make as well, which again is how these dishes started out. 

1 whole fryer chicken - cut apart, breasts halved
1 lb. smoked sausages, 1/2" sliced on bias
1/2 lb. ham, julienned
2 medium onions, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup white wine
2 cups chicken stock
1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
2 14 oz. cans canellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 1/2 cups panko
1 cup parmesan cheese
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tbsp. parsley
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

Season chicken with salt and pepper.  Place a large dutch oven on the stovetop and put 2 tbsp. olive oil into bottom of pan over medium heat.  Working in batches, brown the chicken in the pot turning once on each side roughly 3 minutes per side.  Removing each batch and placing it in a separate dish to rest.  When chicken is done, add onions and garlic to pot then saute for 2-3 minutes until soft - add ham and cook for 2-3 minutes.  Add wine and cook until reduced by half, then add stock, tomatoes, beans and sliced sausages - stir to combine.  Using a tongs, place chicken pieces into mixture and bring to simmer.  When it comes to a simmer, place into a 350 degree oven and bake for 30 minutes.

While stew is in the oven baking, mix together panko, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 cup Parmesan cheese, parsley, salt and pepper.  After stew has baked the initial 30 minutes, remove from oven, place panko mixture on top of stew, covering it evenly - then bake for an additional 30 minutes.  Remove from oven and let rest for 15 minutes.  Serve.

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