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Recipe: Crispy braised chicken thighs with olives, lemon and fennel

November 04, 2009
  • Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times
Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times (kqedxync/640/640x427 )

Crispy braised chicken thighs with olives, lemon and fennel

Total time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Servings: 6

Note: Adapted from "Ad Hoc at Home" by Thomas Keller with Dave Cruz.

3 large fennel bulbs

12 chicken thighs

Kosher salt

Canola oil

1 cup coarsely chopped onion

1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic

3/4 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 broth

About 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves

1. 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 of fennel for this recipe; reserve any remaining fennel for another use.

2. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Set a cooling rack on a baking sheet.

3. Season the chicken thighs on both sides with a pinch of salt. 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, 5 to 10 minutes, depending on the heat of the oil in the pan. Turn the thighs over and cook for about 1 minute to sear the meat. Transfer to the cooling rack.

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. 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.)

7. 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 the parsley leaves.

Each serving: 450 calories; 33 grams protein; 8 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams fiber; 29 grams fat; 6 grams saturated fat; 115 mg. cholesterol; 2 grams sugar; 645 mg. sodium.

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