Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Crispy Braised Chicken Thighs with Olives, Lemon and Fennel

I had so much fun when I was making this.  Something about this recipe was exciting.  

I got Ad Hoc at Home by Thomas Keller recently for my birthday.  It is the HUGEST book ever.  But I am digging it.  

This is mostly your typical braised chicken thigh recipe, but I love the interesting twist on the flavors.  I also appreciate the careful treatment of the process of browning the skin, braising, and browning the skin one last time.  

Non-crispy chicken skin is not good.  Crispy chicken skin is amazing.  It has always been my favorite.

And I made some roasted baby potatoes to go with.  I will have to share the recipe sometime.  

Crispy Braised Chicken Thighs with Olives, Lemon and Fennel
from Ad Hoc at Home by Thomas Keller

3 large fennel bulbs
12 chicken thighs
Kosher salt
Canola oil
1 cup coarsely chopped onion
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
1/4 cup dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
1 cup Ascolane or other large green olives, such as Cerignola
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 stock
About 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves

Cut off the fennel stalks. Trim the bottom of the bulbs and peel back the layers until you reach the core; reserve the core for another use. Discard any bruised layers, and cut the fennel into 2-by-1/2-inch batons. You need 3 cups fennel for this recipe; reserve any remaining fennel for another use.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Set a cooling rack on a baking sheet. Season the chicken thighs on both sides with salt. Heat some canola oil in a large ovenproof sauté pan or roasting pan that will hold all the thighs in one layer over medium-high heat. Add the thighs skin-side-down and brown on the skin side, about 4 minutes. Turn the thighs over and cook for about 1 minute to sear meat. Transfer to cooling rack.

Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the onion to the pan and cook for 1 1/2 minutes. 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 stock. Increase the heat, bring the liquid to a simmer, and cook until the fennel is tender, about 1 minute.

Taste the stock 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.

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 oven, and transfer to a serving platter. Garnish with parsley leaves.

(Servings: 6, Prep time: 20 min., Cook time: 50 min., Difficulty: Easy)

foodforscot Ratings:

Shanon (taste):  7/10
Scot (taste):  8/10
Effort:  2/5
Dishwashing Effort:  2/5


  1. This makes me think of spring! Maybe that is because it was last spring that I started liking fennel and added a couple dishes to my repertoire. Spring is on the way, right?!

  2. Your chicken and potatoes look delicious! Sometimes the most simple ingredients make the very best meals. Thank you for sharing with me tonight. I hope you have a great Friday. I'm so ready for the weekend!

  3. This is the kind of dish that I would be proud to serve to guests! And you are so right about the crispy one likes a soggy mess of it.

  4. shanon.
    have you ever tried goat cheese in your mashed potatoes? i had them for the first time this weekend and almost died. of happiness.
    they also had sundried tomatoes mixed in. YUUUUM. Make a recipe please. That's all I could get out of the owner as far as ingredients. Other than like butter and cream of course.

  5. kt - i have not and it is the best idea i have ever heard. i must try this before it gets too hot for mashed potatoes. i actually always put cream cheese in mine, so I think the a goat cheese substitute is necessary. thanks for genius idea!