from one generation to the next
Usually my cooking inspiration and decisions are driven by what I have to hand and while that depends on the season I have to confess my obsessive food reading also plays a part.
I’m currently exploring the cookbooks in my local library. I love being able to trying out a book before committing money and bookshelf space to ownership, it helps keep my personal collection relevant. I recently borrowed “A Bird in the Hand” by Diane Henry, an English writer I confess to knowing little about.
“A Bird In The hand” is both tempting and inspirational, even though every single recipe is for cooking chicken. Her recipes are eclectic and her influences multicultural but it’s a practical book nonetheless.
A valuable feature of Henry’s book is the large number of recipes can be quickly prepared as quick week night dinners. Because of my current home camp kitchen arrangement limiting me to a one pot stovetop chicken meal, I decided rather than use one the recipes from the book, I’d use my passion for braised fennel as the partner for my chicken.
Fennel bulbs still sporting their feathery green tops always tempt me, their subtle sweet aniseed flavour makes them a great accompaniment, especially if a little cream is involved. I added ground roasted fennel seed and a slosh of Pernod to add layers of complexity to the fennel flavour as it does tend to be elusive.
The chicken was delicious, it far exceeded my expectations. An 8 year old bottle of riesling from the Clare Valley was the perfect match.
Once I’ve moved into my new kitchen, I’ll begin cooking from my newly acquired copy of Henry’s book.
Braised Chicken and Potatoes with Layered Fennel
1 X large organic chicken, portioned on the bone into 8 pieces
1 1/2 heaped teaspoons fennel seed, toasted and ground
2 teaspoons thyme leaves
2 tablespoons rice flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 small bulbs of fresh fennel, trimmed and cut into 5mm wedges
1 cup chicken stock
2 tablespoons Pernod
1/4 cup light cream
2 medium sized waxy potatoes (I used desiree), cut into bite sized pieces
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
green fennel fronds, roughly chopped
Combine the rice flour, thyme and ground fennel seed in a paper bag.
Add the chicken pieces and give the bag a good shake to coat the chicken in the seasonings.
Heat the oil in an heavy based pan then brown the chicken until golden all over.
Set the chicken aside.
Add the fennel to the pan then saute over a medium heat until it wilts and begins to colour.
Deglaze the pan with the Pernod, then add the cream and chicken stock.
Bring the mixture to the boil, add the potatoes then return the chicken and any juices to the pan.
Cover tightly and simmer over a low heat until the chicken is cooked, about 40 minutes.
Taste the sauce and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper as needed.
Serve garnished with toasted pine nuts and roughly chopped green fennel fronds.
Delicious served with parsnip puree.