Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Crispy Braised Chicken Thighs, with Olives, Lemon and Fennel - Worth Every Gram of Fat

I've been talking about making Crispy Braised Chicken Thighs with olives, lemon, and fennel, from Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc at Home, since Alec and Nina brought it to our Cooking Keller themed Concert in the Park last summer.  Talk about a gourmet picnic!

This past weekend, while browsing through cookbooks for Sunday dinner with mom, I came across the recipe again. It was cooler over the weekend, with May-Grey enveloping the island into the late afternoon, and something warm and comforting was very appealing.

A quick drive over the bridge to Whole Foods was in order, knowing they would have Ascolane or Cerignola olives at their Olive Bar, as well as beautiful fennel bulbs and chicken thighs.

I served the chicken on a bed of Cardamom Rice Pilaf, this week's French Fridays with Dorie recipe. The flavors in this dish are truly amazing, due in large part to the crispy chicken skin, and onions, garlic and fennel sautéed in all that luscious chicken fat. Sometimes, you just need to close your eyes and enjoy!

Crispy Braised Chicken Thighs with Olives, Lemon and Fennel
Adapted from Ad Hoc at Home
Serves 6

3 large fennel bulbs
12 chicken thighs (with skin and bones)
Kosher salt
Canola oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
3/4 cup dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
12 Ascolane or other large green Italian olives, such as Cerignola
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 dried bay leaves
4 strips lemon zest, removed with a vegetable peeler
8 fresh thyme sprigs
1 cup chicken broth
About 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
Cardamom Rice Pilaf (recipe follows)

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. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Set a cooling rack on a baking sheet.

3. Season the chicken thighs on both sides with 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 brown for about 5 minutes. Turn the thighs over and cook for about 1 minute more 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 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. Stir in the olives, red pepper flakes, bay leaves, lemon zest and thyme sprigs, then add 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, uncovered, and cook for about 20 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.

7. Turn on the broiler, and put the pan under the broiler for a minute or two to crisp and brown the chicken skin (I transferred the chicken thighs to a baking sheet for this step). Spoon the rice onto the serving platter and then arrange the chicken over the rice. Using a slotted spoon to allow some of the fat to drain off, transfer the olives and fennel mixture to the platter, and garnish with the parsley leaves.


Cardamom Rice Pilaf
Adapted from Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
Seeds from 7 cardamom pods, bruised lightly
1 cup basmati,or other long-grained white rice (I used jasmine)
2 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

In a medium saucepan, saute the onion and cardamom seeds in olive oil, over medium heat, for about 5 minutes. Add the rice, stir to coat with oil, and saute for another minute. Add the chicken broth and lemon zest, and season with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan, and cook until the liquid has almost absorbed and rice is tender, about 10-15 minutes. Turn off heat and allow to sit for a few minutes before fluffing with a fork and serving.

Cardamom seeds, shells, and whole pods

Cardamom Rice Pilaf Ingredients


Anonymous said...

I've been debating what to serve with this week's ffwD recipe. This looks very tasty!

Mom said...

Tasty, indeed! So good, couldn’t resist seconds. Thanks, Denise, for the Superb Sunday dinner.

Adriana said...

What an amazing meal, Denise! You may have just convinced me to buy (gulp) another cookbook. I don't have any Thomas Keller in my shelf yet.

Denise said...

Yummychunklet - Looking forward to reading your post!

Thanks, Mom - Sorry it wasn't on the diet!

Adriana - I have all three of Keller's cookbooks, but this is by far my favorite!

Ei said...

Your photos are beautiful!

Lizzy said...

I need to dig out my Ad Hoc cookbook again...can't go wrong there and your chicken dish looks incredibly flavorful! Perfect with our Dorie rice :)

Jessica of My Baking Heart said...

It all sounds so wonderful... and it's almost noon here, so I'm starving! :)

Cher said...

Thanks for sharing the chicken recipe. I can just imagine how all those flavors played off each other. Very nice.

Pacheco Patty said...

Oh I love your chicken thighs, served over the cardamom rice pilaf, wow, this is just my kind of comfort food - especially suited to our very gray May;-)

Christina said...

That chicken looks amazing!

Foodiva said...

Looking at that first photo, I just wanted to jump in and devour the whole plate! Your crispy chicken atop the cardamom rice looks incredible...

tricia s. said...

Must have that chicken NOW :) Please :) Seriously, your dish looks absolutley amazing, as usual. And you captured it with stunning photography. I have been looking for chicken dishes to have this dish accompany and am delighted you posted the chicken recipe. Thanks so much for sharing and for a fabulous post.

kitchenarian said...

Such lovely presentation. I enjoyed the rice. We served it with a spicy grilled chicken. I like your dish better. :)

Betsy said...

Your chicken looks delicious. Thanks for the recipe. I prefer chicken thighs to breasts anyday! Nice dish to serve with the yummy rice!

KarenP said...

That chicken looks SO GOOD! I bet the pilaf was the perfect accompaniment.

Kim said...

We love the Ad Hoc at Home cookbook. I can't believe you had a Keller-themed potluck!!!!

You guys cook up a lot of the same stuff we love to eat. We know there's some fat in it, but it is worth every gram.

Great photo, too. Really want to peel that crispy skin right off...


luciacara said...

Oh, that chicken sounds amazing...thanks for posting the recipe!!