Dec 18, 2017

Roast Chicken Legs with Braised Kale and White Beans​​​​​​​

Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 50 mins
Roast whole chicken legs served over kale and cannellini beans with lemon for a quick healthy-ish weeknight dinner.

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Whole chicken legs might be my favorite cut of chicken to roast, as you get the crispy skin and lots of tender meat plus they make for a beautiful presentation. I love this easy rustic dinner combo for a healthy-ish weeknight meal. These chicken legs can also be served over salads or paired with pasta like this fresh pesto with trofie pasta.

Going into the holiday season can be tough what with the near constant eating so I like to add in a few lightened up, vegetable-heavy entrées like this one featuring braised kale. Of course I still have to throw just a bit of butter under the chicken skin before roasting the chicken legs – it makes for the crispiest skin. I’m all about finding a middle ground between healthy and flavorful cooking.

Roast Chicken Legs with Braised Kale and White Beans​​​​​​​

Key Ingredients in This Recipe

  • Chicken legs – Chicken legs are made up of the thigh as well as the drumstick. This cut is cheaper and the dark meat remains tender as the chicken roasts. I slide butter under the skin to help it crisp up and remain moist.
  • Cannellini beans – Cannellini beans, also known as white navy beans, are used in Italian recipes. They can be used interchangeably with great northern beans. I love using them for their smooth texture – it complements the braised kale and tender chicken in this recipe.
  • Kale – Braising the kale, and letting it simmer with chicken stock, makes it much more tender – I prefer it to raw kale any day. The white beans add additional protein and make the meal even more filling.
  • Chicken stock – Chicken stock is typically made from chicken bones as well as aromatics and vegetables while chicken broth is made with the meat. How does that affect their flavor? Chicken stock has a much richer, more robust flavor which comes from the collagen released from the simmering bones. On the other hand, chicken broth is much more mellow in flavor. I typically use chicken stock when cooking. Substitute the chicken stock with water if needed (though it takes away some of the flavor.)
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How to Make Roasted Chicken Legs with White Beans and Kale

  1. Arrange lemons. Preheat oven to 400ºF. Arrange lemons in an even single layer on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
  2. Season the chicken. Use your fingers to separate the chicken skin from the meat. Slide the slices of butter under the skin. Rub each of the chicken legs with olive oil and season with salt and pepper then arrange on top of the lemon slices.
  3. Roast the chicken. Roast until the skin is crispy and the meat has cooked through entirely, about 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes.
  4. Heat a pan. Heat a large high-edged sauteuse pan or large sauté pan over medium heat, add the olive oil and heat through (may have to work in two batches depending on the size of the pan).
  5. Sauté the kale. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 10 seconds then add the kale and toss to coat in the oil. Sauté, stirring occasionally until the kale has wilted.
  6. Braise the kale. Lower the heat to medium-low then add the chicken stock and white beans and simmer until the kale is tender and most of the stock has evaporated, about 15 minutes.
  7. Serve. Divide the kale and white bean mixture among shallow pasta bowls and top with a leg of chicken. Top each with Parmesan cheese and serve immediately, warm.
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Roast Chicken Legs with Braised Kale and White Beans

Print Pin
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 50 mins
Serves 6

Ingredients:

For the roast chicken:

  • 2 medium lemons, thinly sliced
  • 6 whole bone-in, skin-on chicken legs
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the braised kale and white beans:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 bunches curly kale, stems removed, roughly chopped
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 2 11 ½ -ounce cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

For serving:

  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions:

For the roast chicken:

  • Preheat oven to 400ºF. Arrange lemons in an even single layer on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
  • Use your fingers to separate the chicken skin from the meat. Slide the slices of butter under the skin. Rub each of the chicken legs with olive oil and season with salt and pepper then arrange on top of the lemon slices.
  • Roast until the skin is crispy and the meat has cooked through entirely, about 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes.

For the braised kale and white beans:

  • Heat a large high-edged sauteuse pan over medium heat, add the olive oil and heat through (may have to work in two batches depending on the size of the pan).
  • Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 10 seconds then add the kale and toss to coat in the oil. Sauté, stirring occasionally until the kale has wilted. Lower the heat to medium-low then add the chicken stock and white beans and simmer until the kale is tender and most of the stock has evaporated, about 15 minutes.

For serving:

  • Divide the kale and white bean mixture among shallow pasta bowls and top with a leg of chicken. Top each with Parmesan cheese and serve immediately, warm.

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  1. This was just as amazing as it looks! I added rice to be a little less healthy lol. Where do you find whole thighs like that? I had to settle for thighs and drum sticks paired together.

    • Adding rice sounds perfect!! I ask for whole legs like that at the meat counter (I usually have great luck at whole foods or bristol farms) and I can usually find them at Trader joe’s in their pre-packaged meat section – sometimes they are labeled as chicken leg quarters! Hope this helps, so glad you enjoyed the recipe!