If you live in California, you're probably sick of the rain. Of course, we need the rain after many years of drought but it's still somewhat tiresome. The wet weather has put me in the mood for comfort food and in particular braises, soups and stews. Truth be told, this particular dish is barely a braise. Chicken thighs are seared then finished on top of a melange of onions and fennel and some slices of lemon. It's soothing and familiar but lighter than traditional comfort food which was once synonymous with "heavy." Comfort food can be fresher and healthier than it used to be, but just as soul soothing.
Have you ever noticed how recipes often call for dry white wine? That always frustrates me and I vow not to do it moving forward. It's better to know which wine in particular works well in a given recipe. In this case, I think a crisp Sauvignon Blanc is great. I used Joel Gott 2015 Sauvignon Blanc which has hints of lemongrass and tropical fruit and plenty of acidity. I also used a Meyer lemon. I hope you are able to find Meyer lemons. They have the most scrumptious scent and a sweetness that means even after just a few minutes in the pan, they are perfectly edible. You can use a regular lemon, you just may not want to eat it.
This recipe is simple and straight forward, other than salt and garlic I added no seasonings. I like letting the fennel and the lemon really shine through. As with many of my recipes, I was inspired by several I found online, including a version of a braised chicken thighs recipe from Melissa Clark at the NYTimes and another, an adaptation of a Thomas Keller recipe for crispy chicken thighs with olives, lemon and fennel from the the LA Times. Please carry on this tradition and adapt this recipe as you see fit. Make it your own!
Chicken with Fennel & Meyer Lemon
Makes 4 servings
1 fennel bulb
4 large or 6 small chicken thighs
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion thinly sliced into half moons
4 cloves finely chopped garlic
1/2 cup crisp Sauvignon Blanc
1 Meyer lemon, sliced, seeds removed
Trim the stalks and bulbs discarding the core and any bruised layers. Reserve the fronds and mince them finely. Cut fennel into thin slices. Season the chicken thighs on both sides with salt. Heat the olive oil in a deep skillet that will hold all the chicken in one layer. Add the thighs skin side down and cook until brown, about 7 minutes. Turn the thighs over and cook for about 1 minute just to sear. Transfer to a plate.
Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the fennel and cook for 2 minutes. Add the garlic, stir and then cook stirring, about 5 minutes. Add the onions, turn the heat up to medium and cook, stirring often, until the fennel is crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Time will vary depending upon the size of your pan.
Layer lemon slices in the pan on top of the fennel and onions. Return the chicken to the pan, skin side up, in a single layer over the lemon slices. Pour in the wine. Immediately cover the pan, set the heat to low and cook for about 5- 10 minutes, until a thermometer inserted reads 165 degrees. Serve topped with minced fennel fronds.
Disclaimer: I received a coupon for Foster Farms Simply Raised chicken which is American Humane Certified, raised without the use of antibiotics and fed a 100% vegetarian diet. I was not compensated monetarily for this or any other post.