12 ounces apple smoked bacon, chopped into small pieces 1 tablespoon olive oil 1 tablespoon butter 1 onion, small dice 2 carrots, small dice 2 celery stalks, small dice 4 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press 2 teaspoon Italian seasoning Pinch or two sea salt ½ teaspoon cracked black pepper 3 (15 ounce) cans small white beans (or navy beans), drained and rinsed 4 cups chicken stock, hot
About 3 cups shredded or chopped chicken breast 2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, chopped 1 teaspoon lemon zest 2 tablespoons lemon juice
1. Place a large Dutch oven, or heavy bottom pot, over medium-high heat; once the pot is hot, add in a small drizzle of olive oil, and the chopped bacon; crisp the bacon completely until nice and brown, then remove with a slotted spoon, drain it on some paper towel, and set it aside for a moment; wipe out the pot, and return it to medium-high heat.
2. Next, add the olive oil and the butter to the pot, and allow them to melt together; once melted and hot, add in the diced onion, carrots and celery, and allow them to soften and saute for about 5 minutes; next, add in the garlic, and once it becomes aromatic, add in about 2/3 of the reserved, crisped bacon, as well as the Italian seasoning, the sea salt and the pepper, along with the white beans, and stir to combine; next, add in the hot chicken stock and chicken breast, stir, and allow the stew to gently simmer for about 40-45 minutes, partially covered with lid; about half way through the cooking process, mash the beans a little bit with the back of your spoon, or with a potato masher, to break up the beans a little bit and release their natural starch to thicken the stew; after about 40 minutes, turn the heat off and finish the stew by adding in the chopped parsley, the lemon zest and the lemon juice; serve the stew with some nice, crusty bread to dip, and garnish with some of the remaining crisped bacon.