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Moisten chicken with fennel-infused broth

A somewhat obscure vegetable — fennel — gets its due in my latest podcast and recent posts to this blog. Braising the quartered bulb is among the methods related in my podcast, which also encourages cooks to consider fennel for their Thanksgiving feast.

But why not start enjoying it now? This recipe makes quicker work of braising fennel with instructions for slicing, rather than quartering. The chicken breasts stay moist by finishing in the fennel cooking liquid. I’d make it with turkey tenderloins, too.

And lest we get our fill of mashed potatoes in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, try serving this dish with soft polenta, one of my favorite pairings for braised fennel bulb. It practically makes a meal without any meat, if you simply top the polenta with a poached egg.

Sautéed Chicken Breasts With Fennel and Rosemary

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 large fennel bulb, cut into 1/2-inch slices

2 teaspoons dried rosemary, divided

1/2 teaspoon salt, divided

1/2 cup chicken broth

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

In a large nonstick frying pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over moderately high heat. Add the fennel, 1 teaspoon of the rosemary and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until fennel is golden brown and almost done, for about 12 minutes. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer until fennel is tender, for about 3 minutes. Remove mixture from pan.

Wipe out pan and heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil over moderate heat. Season the chicken with 1/8 teaspoon of the pepper and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add chicken to pan with remaining 1 teaspoon rosemary and cook until brown, for about 5 minutes. Turn and cook until almost done, for about 3 minutes longer.

Add the garlic; cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add fennel with its cooking liquid and remaining 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Bring to a simmer. Cover pan and remove from heat. Let steam for 5 minutes. Stir in the parsley.

Serve with soft polenta or mashed potatoes. Makes 4 servings.

Recipe from foodandwine.com, courtesy of Tribune News Service.

Tribune News Service photo