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Crispy Braised Chicken Thighs With Olives, Lemon And Fennel

November 3, 2013


A Sunday dinner ….an impromptu party….or Tuesday night!! This recipe fits the bill for all. Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc At Home Cookbook is a dream for home-cooks. Less intimidating than his French Laundry Cookbook, Ad Hoc teaches technique and is filled with approachable, beautiful recipes. Over the last few years I’ve warmed up to the chicken thigh!! Keller boasts thighs are the most flavorful cut of the bird. Not only are they flavorful but very affordable. This recipe calls for braising. The principle is simple. Sear, then cook in chicken stock on a bed of fennel, onion, garlic and strips of lemon zest. This technique produces a rich, concentrated stock layered in flavors. Cooking the fennel mellows its flavor to a subtle sweetness and the brine of the olives and the acid from the lemon balances this dish. It’s a “comfortable” one-pot dish with Mediterranean overtones. Serve with Keller’s smashed potatoes or lemon-parsley couscous. (See recipe below)

Crispy Braised Chicken Thighs With Olives, Lemon And Fennel  Adapted from “Ad Hoc at Home” by Thomas Keller

Serves 6

3 large fennel bulbs

12 chicken thighs, boneless skin on

Kosher salt

Canola oil

1 cup onion, coarsely chopped

1 tablespoon garlic, finely chopped

3/4 cup dry white wine,  Sauvignon Blanc

1 cup Ascolane or Ceregnola or other large green olives

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

4 fresh or 2 dried bay leaves

4 strips lemon zest, removed with a vegetable peeler

8 thyme sprigs

1 cup chicken broth

Garnish: about 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves or/and lemon slices

Cut the fennel stalks. Trim the bottom of the bulbs and peel back the layers until you reach the core. Discard any bruised layers, and cut the fennel into 2-by-1/2-inch pieces. You need about 3 cups of fennel for this recipe. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Season chicken with salt on both sides. Heat a thin layer of canola oil in a large ovenproof sauté or roasting pan that will hold all the thighs in one layer over medium-high heat. Add the thighs skin side down and lightly brown. Turn the thighs over and cook for about 1 minute to sear the meat. Transfer chicken to a baking sheet.

Reduce heat to medium-low, add the onion to the pan, and cook for 1 minute. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Cook, stirring often, until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the fennel, turn the heat up to medium and cook, stirring often, until the fennel is crisp-tender, about 10 minutes.

Pour in the wine and simmer for about 2 minutes to burn off the alcohol. Stir in the olives, red pepper flakes, bay leaves, lemon zest and thyme, then pour in the chicken broth. Increase the heat, bring the liquid to a simmer, and cook until the fennel is tender, about 1 minute.

 Taste the broth and season with salt as needed. Return the chicken to the pan, skin side up, in a single layer. When the liquid returns to a simmer, transfer to the oven and cook for about 20 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. (The meat will be firm and the juices will run clear, and a thermometer inserted should read 165 degrees.)

Turn on the broiler and put the pan under the broiler for a minute or two to crisp and brown the chicken skin. Remove from the oven and transfer to a serving platter. Garnish with parsley leaves AND/OR lemon slices and thyme sprigs.

Lots of yummy juice…. soak up with crusty bread, Keller’s mashed potatoes OR this couscous below. Enjoy.

Lemon-Parsley Israeli Couscous

1 cup Israeli couscous
1 clove of garlic, chopped finely
1/2 cup of onion, chopped finely.
Olive oil
1 1/2 cups of chicken broth
4 tablespoons of parsley, chopped
2 teaspoons of lemon zest

Heat the olive oil in a small sauce pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 2 minutes until it starts to become translucent. Add the garlic and cook 1-2 minutes more until the onion is completely translucent. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Add the Israeli couscous and stir to make sure each piece is coated with olive oil. Allow it to toast in the pan for 1 1/2 minutes. Add the chicken broth, stir and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook for about 15 minutes or until all the broth has been absorbed. Remove from heat and add the chopped parsley and lemon zest. Season with more salt and pepper if needed.










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