This recipe for chicken with red kidney beans has a nice Southwest flavor, making it something called cowboy stew. This is a great Sunday meal because it stews on the stovetop for quite some time. But, there’s a quicker method included in the modifications for mid-week meals.
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What Is Cowboy Stew?
I am certainly not a cowboy. I grew up in New Jersey. But I still love this recipe though. It’s the perfect mix of beans and southwest flavors.
The phrase cowboy stew is used for any slow-cooked recipe made of meat and beans. It can include beef or chicken but normally includes red kidney beans.
Cowboy stew is normally infused with southwestern flavors. It cooked on the stovetop but is normally finished in the oven. You can cook it in a dutch oven, but it is probably more traditionally cooked in a cast iron skillet, cowboy style, as if it was cooked over an open flame in the wild wild west.
Check out some of our other bean recipes with a Southwest flair:
- 15 Bean Soup With Chicken
- Cajun 15 Bean Soup In The Instant Pot
- Slow Cooker Southwest Chicken Chicken With Black Beans
- Spicy Borracho Beans – Mexican Drunken Beans
- Instant Pot Black Eyed Peas And Ham Recipe
Ingredients For Cowboy Stew
The key ingredients are chicken and red beans. I usually use dried red kidney beans, but there is a modification below for canned kidney beans, which really speeds up the process.
The chicken thighs are cooked in olive oil along with onion, garlic, and red or yellow pepper. You can use green pepper, but I prefer red or yellow peppers because they tend to be a little sweeter.
The onion and pepper should be diced. The garlic should be minced or pressed. I like to use a garlic press too so that there aren’t big chunks of garlic in the stew. Try the Zulay stainless steel garlic press, which is easy to use. There’s no need to even peel the garlic ahead of time.
The red kidney bean stew is seasoned with salt, black pepper, cumin, chili powder, and cayenne pepper. The chili powder and cayenne pepper are what give the stew a southwest flavor. If you are sensitive to spice, use mild chili powder.
This is a great recipe to use dried kidney beans. They should be soaked overnight in cool water. Then drain the water and rinse them several times before cooking.
Other ingredients for the chicken and bean stew include simple white rice, one can of diced tomatoes, and some chicken broth or vegetable broth.
How To Make Chicken And Red Kidney Beans
Cooking The Chicken Thighs
Using a large dutch oven or large oven-safe cast-iron skillet, warm the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken thighs, and salt and pepper. Sear the chicken, turning the outsides slightly brown, about 5-7 minutes. There is no need to cook them through, as they will have additional cooking time later. Remove the chicken and keep them covered and warm.
Making The Kidney Bean And Rice Stew
If needed, add a little more oil to the pan. Use a wooden spoon to scrape any bits of chicken from the bottom of the dutch oven. This will keep the stew from sticking, but also add all of that chicken flavor to the recipe.
Add the onion, garlic, and red pepper. Cook for 3-5 minutes or until the onion softens and starts to yellow but before the garlic starts to brown. Add the cumin, chili powder, and cayenne pepper. Coat the olive oil in the mixture. Coating the spices in the olive oil helps to release the flavors and the aroma of the spices.
Add the kidney beans and chicken broth. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to simmer for 30-35 minutes. Add the rice and cook for another 30-35 minutes or until the beans soften. In total, the soaked kidney beans need to cook for at least 60 minutes. It’s important after the 60-minute mark to taste the kidney bean to see if it is soft.
Check the dish periodically to ensure you don’t need to add more chicken broth or water. You know if the rice and beans start to dry out or stick too much on the bottom of the pan.
Finishing In The Oven
Add the chicken back into the dutch oven. Preheat the oven to broil when adding the chicken. Cover the chicken, kidney bean, and rice stew and cook on the stovetop for 5-7 minutes. Place in the oven to broil for about 3-5 minutes uncovered.
Spritz with fresh lemon juice just before serving. Serve with lime wedges, shredded cheddar cheese, and sour cream. The cowboy stew can be served with any of the typical garnish you would use for chili.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound chicken thighs (4-5 pieces)
- 1 small onion, diced
- 4-5 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
- 1 red or yellow pepper, diced
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon mild chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 cup white rice
- 2 cups dried kidney beans (soaked overnight)
- 1 15 ounce can diced tomatoes
- 3 cups chicken broth
- Using a large dutch oven or large oven-safe skillet, warm olive oil over medium-high heat.
- Add the chicken thighs, and salt and pepper. Sear the chicken, turning the outsides slightly brown, about 5-7 minutes. There is no need to cook them through, as they will have additional cooking time later. Remove the chicken and keep covered.
- If needed, add a little more oil. Use a wooden spoon to scrape any bits of chicken from the bottom of the dutch oven. Add the onion, garlic, and red pepper. Cook for 3-5 minutes or until the onion softens and starts to yellow.
- Add the cumin, chili powder, and cayenne pepper. Coat the seasonings in the mixture.
- Add the kidney beans and chicken broth. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to simmer for 30-35 minutes.
- Add the rice and cook for another 30-35 minutes or until the beans soften. In total, the soaked kidney beans need to cook for at least 60 minutes.
- Add the chicken back into the dutch oven. Preheat the oven to broil when adding the chicken. Cover and cook on the stovetop for 5-7 minutes.
- Place in the oven uncovered to broil for about 3-5 minutes.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 711Total Fat: 25gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 18gCholesterol: 149mgSodium: 1249mgCarbohydrates: 76gFiber: 17gSugar: 6gProtein: 51g
This nutritional data is provided by a third-party source and should not be relied on if you are on a strict diet.
Modification – Easy And Quick Cowboy Stew
Any time I make a bean dish that is in the stew family, I try to use dried beans. For this recipe, you can also use canned red kidney beans.
To make this modification don’t add the beans at the same time as the rice. The rice takes longer to cook. Instead, add the beans just before reintroducing the chicken back into the pot. Because the beans are already cooked, they only need to be heated through.
For this modification, you save time by not having to soak the beans overnight, but also cut down on about 40-45 minutes of cooking time. Now, the longest thing to cook is the rice!