Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Roasted Chicken with Fennel

I'm participating in the VegOut! campaign from Recipe for Success. It's a positive way to say "Eat Your Veggies!" Try a bunch of different vegetables - the goal is 30 veggies in 30 days - and see how you like them. Find some new ones you may not have known you liked and just eat more of them. Americans don't eat a lot of vegetables. Research shows that eating them is good for your health. You may be surprised to learn that you don't need to eat a lot of them - a meta-analysis showed that 4 servings a day is the sweet spot. Less than 4 is sub-optimal but more than 4 didn't seem to confer any greater health. So, get to 4. It's not that hard to eat that many. Stick to ones you like, nothing wrong with that. But, eat more of them!

This recipe uses a somewhat unusual vegetable: fennel. Fennel has a subtle licorice taste. You can eat it cooked or raw. It's used a lot in Italian cuisine where it goes by the charming name of Finocchio.

Note: This dish needs to marinate overnight for the full development of flavor.

Chicken Roasted with Ginger, Fennel, and Tomatoes
(serves 4-6)

1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 Tablespoons grated ginger
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, lightly crushed (see Note)
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper

4 - 6 chicken thighs, bone-in and skin-on (about 2 pounds)
1 head of garlic cloves, unpeeled
1 head of fennel, cored and sliced thinly
1 large onion, thickly sliced
1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 cup dry white wine or vermouth
2 Tablespoons olive oil
salt and black pepper

Combine all the rub ingredients in a small bowl. Rub the chicken thighs with this, making sure you get most of it between the skin and the flesh of each thigh. Place the thighs in a large (big enough to hold the chicken and all the vegetables which you'll add later) glass or ceramic baking and marinate, covered, in the fridge overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Scatter the garlic, fennel, onion, and tomatoes around the chicken. Pour in the wine, drizzle the oil on the veggies, and season the whole thing with more salt and black pepper. Cover with foil. Bake for 1 ½ hours until chicken is completely cooked. Remove the foil and increase the oven temperature to 450°F. Put the chicken back in the oven and roast at this higher temperature until the skin gets browned and crispy. Serve over rice or roasted potatoes.

Note: To crush fennel seeds, smash them with the flat bottom of a skillet.

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