Braised Chicken Thighs with Fennel, Olives and Lemon

It snowed in Greensboro yesterday! The first snow of the season is always fun and I love any excuse to hibernate. I didn’t even make a fire – I stayed inside under a blanket with the dog and the television remote. I finally picked myself up at 6 o’clock to make a good warm Sunday Supper for one (just in time for 60 Minutes!). I found this recipe for Crispy Braised Chicken Thighs with Fennel, Olives and Lemon online and it was incredibly easy and inexpensive. You’ll notice that folks are cooking with chicken thighs a lot more these days. They are more moist than chicken breasts and much less expensive. Warning, they are more fatty, but this recipe allows you to take advantage of the crispy chicken skin and pour off a considerable amount of fat after browning the meat. The bite of lemon, olive and fennel cuts the rich taste of the dark meat chicken. I added a splash of lemon juice once the dish came out of the oven for a bite – since I LOVE lemon. I served this over rice cooked in the remaining chicken stock and white wine.
This dish comes together really quickly and is perfect for a weeknight dinner – Sunday Supper – or even a casual night with guests!
Crispy Braised Chicken Thighs Recipe with Fennel, Olives and Lemon, (serves 2 to 4)
Adapted from Ad Hoc at Home, full recipe available here.
  • 1 large fennel bulbs
  • 4 chicken thighs, bone-in & skin on
  • salt
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup green olives (I used ones marinated in lemon and red pepper)
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • the zest of one lemon
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • a handful fresh parsley leafs

Preheat oven to 375F.  Cut off the fennel stalks and discard the fronds.  Trim off the bottom and cut the fennel in quarters. Core the fennel.  Remove the layers of the fennel and chop into 1/2″ thin slices.

Pat chicken dry and sprinkle with salt.  Heat a large oven-proof skillet to medium high heat and add canola oil.  Add thighs skin side down and cook until browned, about 5-10 minutes.  Flip chicken and cook for another minute.  Remove chicken from the pan and set aside on a plate.

Reduce heat to medium low and pour off excess oil, you only need a teaspoon.  Add onion and saute for 1 minute.  Add garlic and continue sweating, stirring regularly until onion is translucent, about 5 more minutes.  Add fennel to the pan and turn heat back up to medium.  Stirring frequently cook until fennel is tender but still has a bite. About 10-15 minutes.

Add olive, red pepper flakes, thyme, bay leaf and zest and cook for 1 minute.  Add wine and simmer for two minutes to reduce. Add chicken stock and bring to a simmer.  Nestle chicken back into the pan so it is sitting on top of fennel skin side up, and just 1/4 submerged.

Put pan in oven and back until chicken is cooked through 20-25 minutes.  Give the chicken a baste with the juices, turn on the broiler, and while watching broil for an extra minute or two to get the skin extra crispy and browned. Remove thyme sprigs, stir in parsley and serve.

Squeeze a little lemon juice over the top for a nice kick!

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