Mercury begins to creep up in early March, melting the drifts of snow, teasing up the bulbs and my palette yearns for the taste of spring. Fennel, with its delicate anise flavor, a cool weather crop, is at its best in early spring. And the appearance of blood oranges at the market are a sure sign spring is on its way. The sweet and beautiful crimson flesh pairs wonderfully with the savory flavors brought out by roasting the fennel in this dish.
Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi celebrate the flavors of Jerusulem in their new cookbook "Jerusalem: A Cookbook," Ten Speed Press. Their recipe for Chicken with Clementines and Arak inspired my adaptation. I thought their recipe needed brighter and more vibrant flavors and made the following adaptations.
I used Pernod in place of Arak simply because that is what I had in the cabinet. The fennel and Pernod seem to be enough anise flavor, so I left out the anise seeds which seemed too heavy. And because I wanted more orange flavor, I substituted blood oranges for the clementines. After tweaking a few other ingredients, (honey instead of brown sugar, more Pernod, more orange juice) I added the zest of one orange and one lemon to intensify the citrus flavor even more.
I like to use bone in, skin on, chicken breast cut in half along with skin on, bone in thighs. By cutting the chicken breast in half, all the pieces are about the same size. The smaller pieces also let in more of the flavors of the marinade.
Marinating the chicken in the roasting pan makes it almost a one dish recipe.
Don't scrimp on the marinating time, or you will miss the burst of spring flavors that make this dish more than jet another roasted chicken dish.
- Serves 4 normal people, or one really hungry husband and 2 others.
split chicken breast, bone in, skin on, cut in half
chicken thighs, skin on, bone in
Fresh ground black pepper
Medium fennel bulbs, quartered and cored
Unpeeled blood orange,cut length wise, quartered and thinly sliced
Freshly squeezed navel or valencia orange juice
Freshly squeezed lemon juice
Zest of one orange, finely chopped
Zest of one lemon, finely chopped
Fresh thyme leaves
Whole grain mustard
- Season the chicken generously on all sides with the Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Arrange the seasoned chicken pieces, along with the fennel and the blood oranges, skin side down, in a roasting pan just large enough to fit these ingredients and the marinade. Tuck some of the orange and fennel underneath each piece of chicken.
- In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients until well blended and emulsified. Pour the marinade over the chicken, fennel and oranges in the roasting pan. Cover with plastic and refrigerate for at lease 6 hours and up to overnight.
- Turn the chicken skin side up half way through the marinating time.
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
- Place the roasting pan in the oven and roast the chicken, fennel and oranges in the marinade until the chicken is browned and cooked through, approximately 35-45 minutes. If the chicken is done, but not browned turn the oven to broil and broil just until the chicken is brown. Alternatively, if you have a convection setting, turn the oven to convection during the last few minutes to brown the chicken.
- Serve the chicken with the fennel and orange pieces and generously spoon the cooking sauce over. Serve with pearled couscous to soak up more of the delicious sauce.