So this chicken and sausage stew. Prep in the morning, slow cook all day, dinner just about ready when I walk in the door at night. Is it not the best kind of meal? It’s one that had me excited all day the day it simmered away a few weeks ago. I don’t want to tell you how many slow cooker meals have fallen flat for us in the past few years…but not this one. Who knew this one would become one of our newest favorite fall meals? With it’s creamy gravy holding perfectly tender shredded chicken and chunks of sausage, white beans, and spinach, we unflinchingly downed this meal for lunches and dinners for three days straight. No holds barred, this stew rocked it for us.
Allow yourself 10-15 minutes of prep time before the slow cooker is full and ready to cook for the day. A quick browning of the sausage and an easy aromatic roux allow the stew to perfectly thicken throughout the day rather than leaving you with a chicken and sausage soup.
- 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 1 lb Italian sausage links (sweet or spicy)
- 2 large onions, minced
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 tsp chopped fresh thyme (or 1/2 tsp dried)
- Pinch of red pepper flakes
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth, plus more as needed
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 (15-oz) cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- 8 oz baby spinach (about 8 cups)
- Grated Parmesan cheese, for serving
- Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Add the chicken to the slow cooker.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat. Cook the sausages until the are brown on all sides, about 1-2 minutes per side. They shouldn't be fully cooked at this point since they will continue to cook in the slow cooker. Transfer the sausages to a plate and set aside. Once they have cooled for a few minutes, slice them into bite-size pieces.
- Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the fat from the pan and add the onions. If you don't have enough fat in the pan add some olive oil instead. Cook the onions for 5-8 minutes, stirring often, until they start to soften and brown lightly. Stir in the garlic, tomato paste, thyme, and red pepper flakes. After about 1 minute and the onions are coated with the tomato paste, stir in the flour and cook, stirring, for another minute. Whisk in the wine, scraping up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Gradually whisk in 1 cup of the broth until no lumps of flour remain. Transfer the mixture to the slow cooker.
- Stir the remaining 2 cups of broth into the onion mixture along with the bay leaves, beans, and sliced sausage. Cover and cook for 6-8 hours on low or 3-4 hours on high.
- Remove the chicken from the slow cooker, shred it with two forks, then stir it back into the stew. Stir in half of the spinach and cover. Cook on high for 2-3 minutes before mixing in the remaining spinach. Cook for another 7-8 minutes on high until all of the spinach is wilted. Season to taste with salt and pepper and sprinkle some Parmesan cheese over the tops of the stew before serving.