This Chicken Traybake recipe has been so quick and easy to prepare, and Fennel is a great vegetable to work with and enjoy, so crisp,tasty and aromatic. Fennel also maintains its integrity when it is cooked, retaining it's shape and texture, and not becoming mushy. I think I might have said once or twice before how much I like traybakes as a style of cooking. On a wet and cold day, this has been a comforting dish to have cooking in the oven, with the aroma in the kitchen promising a delicious and fulfilling meal to come. It is also an easy and quite inexpensive way to entertain 6 people at the same time, particularly during Fennel and Citrus season, or just enjoy it over a couple of nights at home which is what Mr. HRK and I will do. Or just halve the ingredients of the recipe, that's easy. I hope you can try it and also enjoy it.
When I saw some fabulous Fennel at the supermarket for a very cheap price, this recipe from Nigella's recipe book "Simply Nigella" jumped into my mind. It was kind of meant to be as well, as that morning just before shopping I rejoined at our impressive local Public Library to check if any books on Fermenting were in on the shelves, my latest passion in the kitchen, and I also saw at the same time this beautiful book of Nigella Lawsons. I own a sizeable recipe book collection, however not this one, although I did gift a copy to my daughter a couple of years ago as she is quite a Nigella Lawson fan, and I think I have seen Nigella cook this recipe on one of her cooking programs.
I was surprised that only one book on Fermentation was available at the Pubic Library, despite Fermented foods now becoming quite well publicized in our country as a source of health and happiness. Perhaps it is an indication though that a lot of people do their research on line, and as a blogger I am very happy about that, however when I am researching a topic I really like to get a broad based opinion and sit down in a comfy chair and absorb extra information from of a book, and a well respected author. The Fermenting book I came home with is by Sandor Katz, called The Art of Fermentation and is very comprehensive, covering a wide variety of Fermentation practices. It was a New York Times bestseller so I am looking forward to some reading over the weekend. I have also requested another couple of books on inter-library loan, so hopefully they can be found somewhere in Queensland. I know I am referring back to my ex-librarian life here, but some things never leave us. My latest batch of Sauerkraut continues to ferment on the shelf, and future bottles should benefit from my reading.
This recipe is based on Nigella Lawson's recipe, however I have halved the amount of olive oil from 100 to 50 ml., and I have also used the zest of the lemon for some extra zing.I don't have access to Seville oranges as they readily do in England, and as our oranges are sweeter the extra tart balance of the lemon works a treat.
12 chicken thighs, skin on and bone in, preferably organic however that is your choice
2 large bulbs of fennel (approx. 1 kg in total, no need to be that specific though)
50 ml extra-virgin olive oil plus a 15 ml tablespoon to drizzle over the chicken when cooking
Zest and juice of 1 Valencia or Seville Orange
Zest and juice of a lemon
2 teaspoons sea salt flakes
4 teaspoons fennel seeds
4 teaspoons good quality French Dijon mustard
This dish will be more flavoursome if you can start the preparation the day before and leave it to marinate overnight. It then only needs to be put in the oven an hour or so before your guests arrive or before your family plans to eat. Cut the bulbs of Fennel into quarters and then cut each quarter, length ways, into 3. Wash and drain in a colander and leave on the chopping board while you prepare the marinade. Reserve the feathery fennel fronds as a garnish for later.
Place a large freezer bag inside a wide-necked glass measuring jug, pour in the oil, then the orange and lemon zest and juice, and spoon in the salt, fennel seeds, and mustard. Stir it all briefly to mix.
Remove the bag from the jug and, holding it up, add a quarter of the chicken pieces, then a quarter of the fennel pieces, and then continue in this fashion until it is all used up.
Seal the bag tightly at the top, and then lay it in something like a lasagna dish and squelch all of the contents of the bag so that the chicken and the fennel pieces are covered in marinade.
When it is time to start cooking, remove the marinating chicken and fennel from the fridge and tip the contents of the bag, marinade and all into a large shallow roasting tin. 46 x 34cm is the recommended size. Use tongs to position the chicken skin side up on top of the fennel. Leave it for 30 minutes to come to room temperature and preheat the oven to 200 deg. C., or Gas Mark 6.
Drizzle some oil onto the surface of the chicken pieces and cook in the oven for 1 hour, or until the fennel is soft and the chicken cooked through and browned on top,
Put the chicken and fennel onto a warmed serving plate and place in warm oven, and put the cooking pan over a medium heat and boil the juices. You might need to use a saucepan if your baking tray isn't stove friendly. Next time I will cook down the juices in a saucepan anyway as it took quite a while in my large roasting pan, for this amount of chicken.
Boil the juices, stirring as you watch it turn syrupy.
Pour the reduced sauce over the chicken and fennel and then garnish with reserved fennel fronds. Finish with some ground black pepper.
Have a lovely weekend everyone and thanks for taking the time to read my blog.