Sunday, January 22, 2012

Crispy Braised Chicken Thighs with Olives, Lemon, and Fennel

In order to keep a healthy balance in my life as I start the semester (putting a positive spin on procrastination), I have read quite a few articles about improving the quality of my blog.  One tip that I have seen repeated by many a blog guru implores bloggers to showcase their own voice.  People apparently use fancy words or weird sentence structures when they write that come across sounding contrived and fake. 

This advice immediately made me think of my friend Smita and her work alter ego “Leslie.”   Smita worked at a law firm this past summer and found her alter ego, Leslie, would say ridiculous things in emails to co-workers like “I’d be happy to take care of that” and “ please let me know if I can help with anything else going forward.”   Leslie said things Smita would never say in real life.

I have tried to use my natural voice for most of my posts (I don’t want to have a blog alter ego), but I just realized I have made a serious oversight- whenever I mention my mom on the blog, I call her MY mom.  I don’t do that in real life!  My college friends (actually, mostly just Smita) brought it to my attention that it is weird that I just call her “mom.”  My sister does the same thing and we never thought it was weird.  But we have both refused to change, and this practice has led throngs of our friends to lovingly call her “mom” as well.  So henceforth I will refer to her as just “mom” instead of “my mom.”  I will also never say henceforth again because I never say that in real life either.   Hmm.  Now I'm kind of  wondering what my blog alter ego would be called...maybe it would be fun to have one.  Any suggestions?

So now to the point of all this: I want to tell you about the Thomas Keller cooking class that MOM took at Sur La Table in Kirkland.  The three part class pulled recipes from Ad Hoc at Home, a cookbook that I just so happen to possess.  When mom told me about how amazing the class was, I spent some quality time reviewing the cookbook (I do this with all of my cookbooks from time to time). 

This recipe is incredible and delicious and actually EASY- a rare attribute for a Thomas Keller recipe.  Putting the chicken under the broiler at the end is also an ingenious solution for avoiding mushy braised meat.   Oh- and don’t throw away this recipe because you think you don’t like fennel!  The flavors become very mild when it is cooked and there is absolutely no anise flavor to this dish- I promise.  Remember when I made you try Brussels sprouts and you loved them?!  Just trust me.

by Thomas Keller from Ad Hoc at Home
makes 6 servings
Click here to print

 3 fennel bulbs
 12 chicken thighs
 Kosher salt
 Canola oil
 1 cup coarsely chopped onion
 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
 ¼ cup dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
 1 cup Ascolane or other large green olives, such as Cerignola
 ¼ 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 1/3 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves

    Cut off fennel stalks. Trim bottom of 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 oven to 375 degrees. Set a cooling rack on a baking sheet.
    Season chicken thighs on both sides with salt. Heat some canola oil in a large ovenproof saute pan or roasting rack that will hold all the thighs in one layer over medium-high heat. Add thighs skin-side down and brown on the skin side, about 4 minutes. Turn thighs over and cook for about 1 minute to sear the meat. Transfer to the cooling rack.
    Reduce heat to medium-low, add onion to the pan, and cook for 1 1/2 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Cook, stirring often, until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in fennel, turn heat up to medium, and cook, stirring often, until fennel is crisp-tender, about 10 minutes.
    Pour in wine and simmer for about 2 minutes to burn off alcohol. Stir in olives, red pepper flakes, bay leaves, lemon zest, and thyme, then pour in chicken stock. Increase heat, bring liquid to a simmer, and cook until fennel is tender, about 1 minute.
    Taste the stock and season with salt as needed. Return 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 chicken is cooked through.
    Turn on the broiler, and put pan under the broiler for a minute or two to crisp and brown the skin. Remove from oven, and transfer to a serving platter. Garnish with parsley leaves.

1 comment:

  1. this is a lifelong dream realized. and sounds like a dish that even i could make! thanks, bems!